NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Former go-to teen apparel destinations Aeropostale (ARO) , Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) , Urban Outfitters (URBN) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) are financially reeling as fast-fashion purveyors Forever 21 and H&M open new stores and deliver the must-have styles.
To have any shot at halting steep sales and profit-margin declines, the old guard of Aeropostale and the like in the mall has to begin stringing together product wins for boys and girls. The effort to regain the attention of fickle teens has not gotten lost in the current back-to-school shopping season, with "camo" looks, rompers and '90s-inspired grunge ensembles being displayed prominently for full-price on the aforementioned retailer Web sites and in stores. Jogger pants, the well-publicized craze of this back to school, appear to have a bit of competition for the dollars earned by teens at their summer jobs.
The product wins couldn't come at a more pressing time for these mall stalwarts. With the exception of Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) that produced a second-quarter same-store sales increase of 0.3%, the teen apparel sector had another horrendous three-months:
- Aeropostale: had a 13% same-store sales decline in the second quarter, following a 13% plunge in the first quarter.
- Abercrombie & Fitch: same-store sales fell at Abercrombie & Fitch (-1%), abercrombie kids (-6%), and Hollister (-10%) in the second quarter. In the first quarter, same-store sales declined 1% at Abercrombie & Fitch, 6% at abercrombie kids, and 7% at Hollister.
- Urban Outfitters: the Urban Outfitters division followed a 12% comparable net sales decline in the first quarter with a 10% fall in the second quarter.
- American Eagle Outfitters: same-store sales declined 7%, building on a 10% decrease in the first quarter.
The photos below shed light on the top trends for teen apparel this back-to-school, and mostly represent merchandise that is not quickly finding its way onto the profit-busting clearance racks.
The "camo" trend has also extended to female handbags and other accessories, as seen here at Michael Kors.
90s Era Grunge
Nirvana's late lead singer Kurt Cobain would be happy to see grunge apparel reappear in the mall, except for this go around the merchandise is slimmer fitting.
Also known affectionately as "onesies", rompers date back to the early 1900s.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.