Sunday, December 04, 2005

America's Youth and their Clothing Suppliers

OK, folks, how 'bout a little stream-of-conscience post to enlighten the teens.

Last Saturday I was dragged kicking and screaming in a car with two girls, to the Westfield mall in Canton, "Beldon Village", for you old-timers. Truth be told, I wasn't kicking and screaming, it was sort of an interesting idea. Me—the bodyguard. Wouldjabelieveit?

At any rate, I found that I could hardly bring myself to enter even the most innocent of stores. American Eagle, Hollister, and the like. Because of what I've heard, not seen, I never went into Abercrombie & Fitch. Hollister was bad enough.

All in all, having visited these stores, and few others, I found it awefully hard to keep from becoming intellectually cynical. In fact, I found it impossible.

Hollister is an amazing store. Complete brand identity in only one word: Hollister. It means nothing to me, but to the rest of the teen world, it means everything. So, really, as a marketer myself, I can really respect that. The way they've done up their store is incredible. A real surf shop! But the whole thing was too authentic! It was so poorly laid out, I found that leaving the store required becoming intimately acquainted with a few strangers, the very people I was trying to get away from! And the music created an indescribably oppressive atmosphere, along with the closing-in walls, that made being in that shop nearly claustrophobic. It was insane.

American Eagle. I had to laugh. It was a polar opposite to Hollister. Brand Identity in 2 words, now, instead of 1. (jk) But the store was really boring. I'm trying to figure out if it would be good for business or not. Hollister creates an identity, American Eagle sells. I don't know. It seems to me, in hindsight, that I really don't have a clue what kind of clothes I saw at Hollister, I was too busy analyzing the atmosphere. My graces, it was awful. But American Eagle was less memorable than it's clothes were. I still have flash-backs of khaki jeans, torn, nearly from limb to limb, all in the name of individuality! Ha! It's hilarious just to think about. Individuality, for those of you who think it can be supplied in the clothes you wear, can not be supplied in the clothes that you wear! It certainly can be helped along, but if you're shopping at AE, Abercrombie or Hollister, chances are, you're not!

When describing my opinions to a friend, I thought of an endless plain of fabric (most likely torn fabric) from which all these people were cut. Thousands of youth from all over the world, trying to fuel their individuality by purchasing from the same stores! I have to kinda laugh at the ignorance of it.

Of course, in the end, it's not a battle of which clothes you want to wear that makes me so cynical of the aforementioned stores. As in Hollister, from a marketer's perspective, I think they did well. And AE, making their clothes more memorable than their store, good job. But I can't get past the kind of moral force that they are in our states. Of course, the people that habitually shop there are already exposed to all the sin you can imagine, but:

"As for me and my house, we will shop at Kohl's!"


Anonymous said...

Your right, I love it! I agree very much!

Anonymous said...

I have walked into the Hollister store at Belden Village once. . . .and your description is very accurate, I do not remember any clothes, only tight confined spaces, and a feeling that I had walked out of the mall and into a surf shack on the beach somewhere on the west coast.

I'm not quite sure if I agree with your statement about individuality, it seems to me that teens buy those clothes because they know if they wear Hollister, AE, Aero, Abercrombie, ect. ect. that they will fit in (at least partially). And the torn jeans are not so much about being individual as they are about getting a favorable first impression from other teens. As if when your pants have more holes than a piece of swiss cheese and your shirt screams the latest brand name, then your peers will see you for who you are . . . . a member of the crowd. (Okay, I do agree with you on the individuality thing after all).

whimsicalfaery said...

As the person directly responsible for this wonderful stream-of-consciousness extravaganza, I definitely feel obligated to put in my own two cents.

First of all, A & F gives me a headache just from walking past it. I mean, I love the whole loud music thing, but I like to be able to distinguish my own voice from the cacaphony around me. Hollister gives me a headache for slightly different reasons. Granted, the music and the confined spaces are oppressive, but it's the smell that bothers me most. All of those "Jake" and "August" and "Eau d'smelly socks" starts to get to your mucus membranes after awhile.

My one (very tiny) problem (there's always a problem, isn't there) is that while it is next to impossible, there are those few (and far between) gems that no one else wants and that somehow, I find! These are the truly individual items of clothing! I've come to the conclusion that it isn't wearing completely different clothing that makes someone an individual. (Then, you'll just be the same as everyone else who's wearing the different clothing.) It is when you simply wear whatever you like, no matter what the genre. Even you (Nic) have to agree that I do possess some preppy clothes.

whimsicalfaery said...

I find it very ironic and extremely humorous that google is now posting Hollister ads on your website.

Anonymous said...

ROTFLMHO about the fact that Google is putting ads on your site for Hollister, et. al. I left a lenghtly comment regarding this post on ur xanga site, so u can read it there. Good post

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, the Hollister brand is owned by A&F.

Tara said...

I agree with michael- and to start off with, I want to refute the idea that kids shop at Hollister and A&F to attain individuality- they don't. They want the clothes so they BLEND IN with every other teeny-bopper-cool-kid in suburbia that is pretending to be straight off the beaches of Western CA. This means camouflaging themselves in overpriced, over processed clothing that screams the brand from 1,000 yards away. Being a teen has nothing to do with individuality these days, and A&F has done a great job of positioning their products as the coolest camouflage a kid, or adult, can own.
I worked for a short while at the Hollister in Belden Village. The overwhelming scent comes from the 2 bottles of Jake that they spray the ENTIRE STORE with every morning. Also, the store is not meant to appeal to parents, in fact most parents spend their time sitting on the conveniently placed benches outside the store while their children journey through the clothing lined corridors that pulsate with the hippest, freshest music from the west coast. The store can most easily be described by me as “painfully hip.” I choose NOT to wear the clothes.
They own 4 main name brands- abercromie for the elementary school kids, Hollister for pre-teens and high school, Abercrombie & Fitch for the High Schooler and young college aged student, and finally Rhuel, which is an elite uppity brand for young adults available only in major cities. A&F has done a great job saturating the market with their brand and differentiating their product to promote brand loyalty from childhood on up. I have been to the Rhuel store in Chicago and found it engagingly aloof- probably the same way that teens find Hollister.
When you shop at Hollister or A&F you aren’t buying a shirt with a logo or jeans with holes or individuality- you are buying a status symbol that says “I belong.”