How Aeropostale went from a bankrupt mall store to a trending TikTok brand in 5 years

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Five years after bankruptcy, Aeropostale and parent company ABG are slowly working to reverse the brand’s outlook, starting with a new focus on the Gen Z consumer. Thanks to the focus on denim and some timely virality on TikTok, the brand is in a much better position than in 2016.

Aeropostale’s back-to-school product assortment, launched on Monday, is rich in denim, with a variety of new fits and washes for both men and women. According to Natalie Levy, director of merchandise at Aeropostale, denim was only a small part of the business when she joined the company in 2017. The top-to-bottom sales ratio was three to one, with graphic t-shirts being the biggest. sale item. Denim is now the brand’s # 1 category, with current sales 50% higher than in 2019.

The focus on denim was a strategic move, after several years of market research, Levy said. Aeropostale followed Generation Z’s growing disinterest in skinny jeans, which were incredibly popular with millennials. Mom jeans, baggy jeans and “skate jeans” – all looser fits – account for 40% of Aero’s sales of jeans for women, while jeggings make up a large part of the rest. Last year he only sold one looser fit for women – boyfriend jeans. It only accounted for 7% of the category’s total denim sales, showing the sharp change in trend.

“You don’t see girls in tight jeans anywhere anymore,” Levy said.

According to Levy, denim is one of the best examples of how fashion trends and tactics that have worked on older generations must be dismissed when they appeal to Gen Z. The younger consumer has very different tastes in the fit and function of what he wears, plus they have different media consumption habits which make traditional marketing methods less effective. Instead of highly produced content and designed campaigns on Instagram, for example, Levy said unforeseen moments on TikTok have been responsible for much of Aeropostale’s success with Gen Z over the past year.

“Our ‘little tops’ have exploded on TikTok,” Levy said, referring to the wave of posts about the brand’s crop tops that began in April. “Millions of hits. But it was a bit hit and miss. You can’t predict when it will happen, but you can support it after the fact.

The hashtag “small tops” exploded on TikTok in April, with more than 500 videos posted. While the hashtag wasn’t limited to Aeropostale – other brands like American Eagle and Targets were also highlighted by the trend – Aero saw a big bump in TikTok’s engagement. There have been over 33 million mentions of Aéropostale associated with the trend. Most of the posts are written by women, who represent 60% of Aéropostale customers.

Levy said the engagement came simply from sending products to TikTok users, including Lexi Hidalgo (1.6 million subscribers), who made clothes transporting videos. No promotions or paid referrals drove the trend. Since last year, sales of Aéropostale mini-tops have tripled. Levy said store associates had reported customers walking into stores asking for “the TikTok top.”

Levy said when his social team realized “their phones were exploding,” they turned to supporting the trend by posting more TikTok content focused on little ups and sending more style to influencers.

The surge in denim and mini-tops sales comes just five years after the company filed for bankruptcy. In 2016, Authentic Brands Group bought Aeropostale from bankruptcy for $ 240 million. Marc Miller, CEO of the SPARC joint venture, made up of ABG and Simon Property Group, embarked on the brand’s turnaround.

ABG CEO Jamie Salter told Glossy in January that there is a simple process to transform the brands he applies: determine who the target customer is and follow their lead.

“I’m looking at the Comscore data and everything, and it’s useful. But really, what you need to look at is: how many are buying our target consumers and what are our margins? said Salter. “If we’re not selling enough to the people we want to sell to, we have to do something different. “

While ABG does not break down the revenue for its brands individually, the entire SPARC portfolio, which includes Nautica and Eddie Bauer, among others, will bring in around $ 8.6 billion in 2021.

To that end, Levy said the past few years have justified this strategy.

“I love seeing Gen Z kids on TikTok post on Aeropostale,” Levy said, referring to posts like this one of Lexi Hidalgo to her 1.6 million followers, saying she was “obsessed” with Aero’s clothes.

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