Thursday, August 27, 2009

"'Abercrombie has mismanaged this economic downturn more than any other retailer'"

Wow TIME magazine. That's a pretty brutal article.

It was only 2 years ago TIME wrote a love letter to J Crew's Mickey Drexler, in part, for "avoiding the race to the bottom by refusing to woo price-conscious consumers and sell ever cheaper clothes made with ever cheaper labor--a trend driven by discounters like Wal-Mart and Kohl's." Now? Abercrombie gets castigated for not joining the race to the bottom: "As the economy spiraled downward and competitors like AĆ©ropostale started discounting like crazy, Abercrombie refused to lower prices. The company insisted that price-cutting would cheapen the cachet of the brand." I know. The recession changed everything. But that should have been the point -- that no one really has the answers and that the true overarching problem is "the Abercrombie vibe, which seems pretty tone-deaf to the times." Pricing was just a symptom.

And I wonder if this is right: "'Retailers don't realize that consumers are spending less and doing O.K. with it.'" Really? We're doing OK? That include those 16%?

ADDED: Re-reading that story, I think TIME uses "vibe" to mean in-store experience. But, to me, "vibe" means everything from company culture to an ability to get trends right to hiring practices.

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