American Eagle's "One-Size-Fits-All" Approach

American Eagle's One Size Fits All selection doesn't exactly live up to its name. Learn how the retailer is losing potential customers with exclusionary sizes.
Customer Engagement

If you wander to the back corner of the women's section in your local American Eagle Outfitters, you may notice something slightly out of the ordinary. At first glance you'll recognize the store's standard selection of crop tops, short shorts, and babydoll dresses. But closer inspection will reveal that each item features the same, albeit unexpected, characteristic--everything's one-size-fits-all.Referred to as the "Don't Ask Why" collection, this array of clothing supposedly blends the street style of New York, L.A., and Milan with festival-inspired edge so shoppers may mix, match, and layer these barely there (and barely touched) pieces as they wish.

Why's that, you ask? Why haven't tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings scoured the racks and gathered the goods already? Well, don't. (No, I'm kidding. But the name's beginning to make much more sense, don't you agree?) By reasonable deduction, the answer's quite clear: No one's interested in this line because we're not all one size. Contrary to what magazines and the Internet would like us to believe, women--including young adults--have varying body types that are often disregarded and diminished by leading retailers and designers across the board. Though the gimmick claims one size fits all, American Eagle means to say that one size fits all those it'd like to see wearing the brand.

However, this approach doesn't diverge far from the beaten path for American Eagle, as Aerie, the brand's intimates and loungewear division, has been exhibiting the same sort of bias in recent months with its #aerieREAL campaign. Based upon the premise that "the real you" is sexy, Aerie's advertisements and store displays feature young women who have not been digitally retouched by the likes of Photoshop. On the outside, this initiative seems heartfelt and hopeful, but if you step back for one moment, you'll notice that these women also exhibit one basic body type. (No, making them bend funny so their stomach wrinkles does not count as diversity.) These models don't need to be altered because Aerie blatantly hired the very sort of woman it wants to see in its bras and panties, alienating those of varying sizes once again.

If clothing retailers, such as American Eagle, wish to retain consumers, why do they choose to implement exclusionary initiatives and campaigns that hinder instead of help the customer relationship? There's no such thing as "normal" when it comes to body type, yet the brand insists upon subtly dictating the sort of woman who belongs in its clothing and apparel while concealing it under the guise of inclusive honesty.

The American Eagle brand, in particular, appeals to the younger, more impressionable set, which must constantly field incoming attacks against their appearance from the public and mainstream medias. Thus, popular retailers should put their power and influence to good use by spreading the message that everyone has the freedom to dress however they please. By selling an array of sizes and employing diverse models, retailers have the power to revolutionize their current selling strategy, cultivating customer trust and loyalty as they demonstrate their deep care and concern for shoppers from all walks of life.