Teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Tuesday said that former J. Crew SVP of brand creative Ashley Sargent Price has joined the company as SVP and creative director of marketing. That entails overseeing marketing for Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie Kids, and Hollister Co., and the retailer’s photo studio.
Price spent a decade at J. Crew overseeing creative teams for all divisions of the company including J. Crew, crewcuts, and Madewell, according to the retailer. She’s also held strategic creative roles at Anthropologie, Ann Taylor Loft, Gap, and Urban Outfitters.
Price reports to president and CMO Fran Horowitz, along with executive chairman Arthur Martinez and COO Jonathan Ramsden, leading the company in lieu of a CEO. Controversial longtime CEO Mike Jeffries left at the end of 2014.
As with rival teen apparel retailer American Eagle in recent quarters, Abercrombie’s merchandising changes have enabled the company to ease up on heavy discounting. Some of these changes include distancing itself from the logo-centric clothing rejected by millennials and focusing on quality. The retailer recently saw healthier-than-expected Q4 same-store sales growth of 1%, its first increase in more than three years.
Those changes helped mitigate the effects of currency swings, warm holiday-time weather, and slow store traffic that have been steady complaints in retail earning reports since the holidays.
In addition to the all-important merchandise pivot, Abercrombie has said it’s moving away from the sexualized marketing and the ethos that the retailer was reserved for some mythic cool kid, hallmarks of Jeffries time there. The retailer has done away with the ubiquitous shirtless models that sometimes camped outside stores, and models in advertisements are noticeably more covered up. But although Abercrombie said it would tone down the heavy perfume in stores and turn up the lights, some stores remain dark spaces in malls, indicating that the changes have been slow.
That may be because there hasn’t been a strong marketing campaign to replace all that—until now, presumably. In her statement, Horowitz said there is more change to come.
"We are thrilled and fortunate to have Ashley on board during this exciting time at Abercrombie & Fitch Co.,” Horowitz said in a statement. “Her experience overseeing creative for globally recognized brands will be valuable for us and she will play a significant role in evolving our brand positions."