Good question. I was just talking about this with my great friend and hairdresser (Josh Richardson, a millennial). Josh was reminiscing about how Abercrombie & Fitch used to be the “it” brand with millennials in the 90s. As a Gen Xer, I was a bit too old to fall into that trend trap, but I certainly remember the massive walking logos on teens’ shirts everywhere. (When I was a teen in the 80s, it was Guess, Polo and Izod.)

So how then did we go from that to a March 2015 CNN Money article referring to Abercrombie as a “teenage wasteland at the mall.” Ouch!

First, today’s modern teens don’t care as much about wearing clothes emblazoned with huge logos. They’re more interested in “fast fashion” brands like H&M and Forever 21 – where they can find affordable, cute and trendy clothes – with few visible logos. Also, a few years ago, Abercrombie’s (now former) CEO made a polarizing statement about only wanting “cool, good-looking people” to wear his company’s clothes. Total no-no with Gen Z, who celebrate their differences and value seeing “real” people in advertising instead of scantily-clad beautiful, airbrushed models. There are other reasons, of course, but those are the standouts for marketers.

I’m interested to see what Abercrombie does to shed it’s “mean girl” image – as Fast Company describes it. Remember, Gen Zs don’t like bullies! Brands won’t win their hearts by making Gen Zs feel bad about themselves or trying to help them “look cool” Only Gen Z gets to decide what’s “cool” now – and brands need to listen and respond rather than try to direct those trends.

Here’s a link to the full Fast Company article.