I have to admit that I’ve hated the style of Abercrombie & Fitch since it practically guaranteed popularity back in my high school in the 90s. And so to me A&F represented everything I was not. But since then there have been several retailers in that particular genre of retailers – American Eagle and Hollister most notably, who all have a significant share of the market, perhaps until now.
Behold Who.A.U., which begs the question, who ru? Aside from a name that kind of confuses or at best makes me think of a university, the new kid on 34th Street in New York is a South Korean retailer offering teens that same Americana spirit we already have from American retailers.
Who.A.U.’s merchandise is barely indistinguishable from what hangs inside an A&F, Hollister or American Eagle store, wouldn’t you say? It has the right mix of both prep, surfer and outdoorsy like the others only it’s Who.A.U. The store looks good but upon 2 store visits so far from our retail correspondents in NY, it’s empty. Could a South Korean retailer crack the market in America for cool teens? It seems they’ve done a great job at replicating all 3 of said retailers, heck, they even have a “Patch Polo Shop”, which is clearly inspired from Ralph Lauren’s Rugby concept.
If I remember correctly, the kids in my high school bought Abercrombie because it was Abercrombie. I’d beg to say that it will be a tough climb for Who.A.U. to achieve such brand recognition and status, and they certainly don’t want to become known as a knock-off or cheap version of the other established retailers. Could a South Korean copy-cat beat us at our own game?
More coverage coming this week on Fashion Snoops.