American Eagle Outfitters’ new chief creative officer on why the company still believes in stores and why the fashion industry is poised for a post-pandemic renaissance

jennifer foyle american eagle aerie

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American Eagle Outfitters’ Aerie brand has been on a tear as of late. 

Jennifer Foyle has guided that success as the global brand president of Aerie, which specializes in underwear, activewear, loungewear, and swim, since 2010. Under her leadership, Aerie famously stopped the practice of photoshopping models and advanced body positivity as part of its brand. 

On Wednesday, Foyle was promoted to chief creative officer of American Eagle Outfitters, leading merchandising, design, and marketing for both Aerie and American Eagle. 

In an interview with Business Insider, she said she looks forward to working with Chad Kessler, global brand president of American Eagle, to keep building on a base of individuality and inclusivity for American Eagle, Aerie, and the recently launched Aerie sub-brand Offline. 

“We’re ready to grow when other retailers are closing,” Foyle said. “I think that that’s another point of distinction for our portfolio, that we are growing, we’re opening, we’re moving forward in these uncertain times, but this is where you can really dominate and win market share.”

American Eagle Outfitters reported mixed results in its most recent quarter. While Aerie’s revenue grew 32% for the quarter, the American Eagle brand’s revenue declined 26%. Both brands saw digital revenues grow significantly, with a 142% increase for Aerie and a 47% bump for American Eagle.

During the earnings call, executives shared that digital penetration for Aerie is now above 50%.

They also said that the company plans to close between 40 and 50 American Eagle stores this year, with potentially more closures on the way next year as leases expire.  

But Foyle said that the company still very much believes in stores. Twenty-five new Aerie stores will open this year, including two locations for the new Offline brand. The first Offline store will open in Nashville this fall. 

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“I think there will always be demand for some physical presence,” Foyle said. “And particularly after what we’ve been going through with this pandemic, I’m excited to entertain new ideas on how to work with our customer and be where she is.”

As of the end of the second quarter, there were 931 American Eagle stores and 160 standalone Aerie stores. 175 of those American Eagle locations also have Aerie stores attached to them. 

And while Aerie is growing, Foyle says the company plans to be strategic and not “over-penetrate” in any certain geographical area. 

“We need to be in the right markets, but we need to stand out,” Foyle said.

Apparel sales have struggled amid the pandemic. According to the most recent data from the US Department of Commerce, clothing sales fell 20% year-over-year in July. They fell 25% year over year in June. 

Still, Aerie’s casual and comfortable styles seem well suited for the current moment of social distancing and working from home. Offline’s launch this summer built on that trend further. 

At the same time, Foyle says she sees the potential for a fashion renaissance beyond sweatpants and leggings once the pandemic is in the rearview and people fully resume their usual routines. 

“I think, coming out of it, …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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