This morning, the New York Times reports on the first bit of truly heartening news to come out of the New Depression: Abercrombie & Fitch is screwed. While cheaper stores that you would have been embarrassed to go into when you were a kid thrive, every teen lifeguard’s go-to outlet for douchebag t-shirts, homoerotic ad campaigns, and casual racism is, as the Times‘ Eric Wilson puts it, “facing a consumer revolt.”
This is the good news. The bad news is that Wilson’s story makes no sense.
Under the headline “Losing its Cool at the Mall,” the Thursday Styles piece argues that teenagers are tightening their belts like never before, and that labels are SO over. Teens are now more concerned with their pocketbooks than conforming to some Madison Avenue ad agency’s idea of cool! Finally! As evidence of this shift, Wilson reports:
“Buckle, another mall store, has been doing even better with teenagers, gaining ground with a broad assortment of labels and styles, including Lucky Brand, Betsey Johnson, Diesel and Roxy. Its sales were up 14.7 percent last month.”
Up 14.7 percent? With labels like Lucky and Betsey Johnson? Close the malls! EVERYONE START KNITTING.
“I’m not sure customers are going to ever go back to shopping the way they once did,” the chief executive of some mall store called Hot Topic — which posted a gain of 7.1 percent in March! — told Wilson, who then helpfully adds that those gains were “largely on the strength of licensed products tied to the ‘Twilight’ vampire series.”
(“Twilight” is not a trend, motherfuckers! It’s a lifestyle!)
Even if this sounds like kids are still spending cash on trendy products marketed to them in the pages of celebrity magazines, do not be fooled. “During years of rampant consumerism,” writes Wilson, “where teenagers shopped was often more closely tied to what was happening in the pages of US Weekly or InStyle than their families’ financial circumstances.” That was then. This is now. And, as you can see from Wilson’s story, where teenagers shop is often more closely tied to what is happening in the pages of US Weekly or InStyle than their families’ financial circumstances.
Or, to put it another way: Kids might have less money now because their parents lost a bundle in the market, but they will always spend on trendy shit and never care about anyone but themselves. Thank God.
Also? Thursday Styles will never be good at recession reporting.