American Eagle is thriving at a time when the fashion industry as a whole is taking a beating. In April, not long after the coronavirus arrived in the United States, clothing sales plummeted 79%, the biggest drop ever recorded. But while other retailers close stores and work to stem the flow of losses, American Eagle is opening stores and launching new brands. It seems the retailer is reaping the benefits of its laser focus on its target customers: members of Generation Z. Through careful research, American Eagle has figured out that these teens and twenty-somethings want comfort from their clothing brands. They want comfortable clothes and marketing that makes them feel comfortable with themselves. The coronavirus pandemic only amplified that demand, and American Eagle was more prepared than most to meet it.
Jennifer Foyle, AEO’s chief creative officer and Aerie’s global brand president, says the company’s research points to one clear reality: Today’s young people want comfort, and she means that in every sense of the word.