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Teen clothing companies are debranding; is teen self-expression changing?

A man walks past an Abercrombie and Fitch store on February 22, 2013 in San Francisco.
A man walks past an Abercrombie and Fitch store on February 22, 2013 in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Abercrombie & Fitch announced last week that it will remove all logos from its clothing starting with its spring line. While Abercrombie has struggled with particular branding issues recently, the move to dissociate from a logo is not unique.

As teens move away from the “three As” (Abercrombie, American Eagle, Aeropostale) and spend their money at cheaper stores with no logos (Forever 21, H&M), formerly popular retailers have fought to keep their place in teen wardrobes, often by debranding for a more neutral look. Some of the changes have been attributed to competition from lower-priced stores and foreign clothing companies, like Uniqlo and Zara. But much of the shift into cheaper fashion and less brand focus may be that teens and young adults put a higher priority on keeping up with technology trends. Last season’s iPhone is more embarrassing to teens these days than last season’s jeans, and as the younger market turns to technology and social media as a primary form of self expression, labels may be less important.  


Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association

Steph Wissink, managing director, senior research analyst and co-director of investment research at Piper Jaffray focusing on teen/youth specialty retail, youth spending, fashion brands, and retail markets