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Associated Press
In a major change for the retailer whose logo-emblazoned shirts and T-shirts once held major cachet with teenagers, Abercrombie & Fitch is phasing out its logoed clothing.

Abercrombie & Fitch sales weaken as teens lose interest

NEW YORK – The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded.

Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. tumbled Thursday after reporting weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere.

The company is trying to stock trendier clothing – and it turns out that means stripping off the once-prized Abercrombie logo.

It is a major change for the retailer, whose sweatshirts and T-shirts emblazoned with its name long held major cachet with teenagers. Now, individuality is the name of the game.

“Personal style, specifically with teens, is becoming less about fitting in and more about standing out,” said Lauren Wolfenden, a senior advisory analyst at WGSN, a fashion trend consultancy. “A&F has wised up to this by phasing out the cookie-cutter logoed product look and bringing in trendy pieces that can be worn in a multitude of different ways.”

A&F and other traditional teen stores have to adapt in an uphill battle to turn their businesses around as mall traffic drops and shoppers’ tastes change.

A slowly recovering economy is making parents and teens to think twice about splurging on clothes. Expensive standbys such as Abercrombie also have lost business to “fast fashion” chains including H&M, known for quickly churning out trendy $9 tops.

Teens are also spending less time at the mall and more time researching and buying on mobile devices. And when they do buy, they’re more likely buying the latest gadget than fill their closets.

Aeropostale and American Eagle have also reported declining earnings on weak sales.

Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, said the retailer has made progress in stocking trendier clothing and said the improvement is “clearly evident” in its back-to-school business.

For the fall shopping season, A&F has reduced its logoed merchandise by half and plans to go further, he said.

“In the spring season, we are looking to take the North American logo business to practically nothing,” Jeffries told investors.

A&F said it earned $12.9 million, or 17 cents a share, in its fiscal second quarter. That compares with $11.3 million, or 14 cents a share, a year earlier.

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