Abercrombie & Fitch last week launched its first gender-neutral collection in time for spring, dubbed the "Everybody Collection," according to a company press release.
The retailer's merchandising team found that many customers do not necessarily want to be restricted to certain styles and colors regardless of gender, and the company built the collection on that insight, incorporating popular trends across genders, with a single size system.
The assortment has been available in stores and online since mid-January, according to a company press release. The first collection features 25 styles, including tops, bottoms and accessories.
Abercrombie says it's taking a cue for this collection from skate and streetwear culture, as well as the military trend, and it's building on the current blurring of gender lines in the wider culture, too.
The approach is a far cry from its previous stance as a highly sexualized brand, positioned to appeal to mythic "cool kids," a pivot the retailer has been working on in the years since the departure four years ago of controversial (if, for a time, highly successful) CEO Mike Jeffries.
It's been slow going, but the retailer is finally gaining some traction, although it remains dependent on its more casual, lower-priced Hollister surf brand. In November the apparel company reported that third quarter net revenue rose 5% to $859.11 million. By brand, Hollister saw net sales for the third quarter rise 10% to $508.1 million. The flagship Abercrombie brand fell 2% to $351 million.
The retailer long promised to brighten stores and ditch its sexualized marketing, and has finally gotten around to doing that. Some of the changes in merchandising implemented last spring failed to resonate, however, and failed to translate into a stronger brand identity, according to GlobalData Retail analyst Håkon Helgesen. GlobalData analysts were expecting better for fall, and Abercrombie has delivered. In fact the company has "ripped up the rulebook and completely reinvented itself," GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders told Retail Dive in an email last fall.
The reality, though, is that Hollister — like Gap Inc.'s lower-priced, more casual Old Navy brand — is the more robust banner, which CEO Fran Horowitz has acknowledged. The Everybody Collection will help boost the company at the all-important back-to-school season this year, according to Stacia Andersen, Brand President of Abercrombie & Fitch and Abercrombie Kids.
"Parents and their kids don't want to be confined to specific colors and styles, depending on whether shopping for a boy or a girl," she said in a statement. "Our Everybody Collection is one assortment, in one size run, that covers the trends we are seeing in both color and style. We are excited to offer these additional options and are looking forward to building on this initial collection for summer and the back-to-school seasons."
The Everybody Collection will be available in all Abercrombie Kids stores and at abercrombie.com. In stores, the collection will be merchandised in the center of the space, and online, the product will be live on both the boys' and girls' product pages. Abercrombie Kids plans to maintain this collection as an ongoing part of the assortment, with updates for summer and Back to School, according to the release.