NEW YORK — High school is all about who’s in and who’s out. For the teen retailers, it’s playing the same way.

On Monday, Wet Seal was out after it said creative director Victor Alfaro resigned. PacSun was in, after delivering robust results for its second quarter. Today, Abercrombie & Fitch, which posted lackluster same-store sales for July, could be out as it reports quarterly results. Then again, it could be in as the industry waits to see if the retailer shares details about its latest division: Ruehl.

Oh, and then there’s the back-to-school shopping season, which could be a big in this year, according to analysts.

In a statement before the market opened, The Wet Seal Inc. said Alfaro, who joined the company one year ago, “resigned and has been released from his contract, effective August 15, 2004.” The retailer is searching for a replacement, and said it doesn’t believe Alfaro’s departure “will materially impact its future financial performance.”

This creative merchandising executive change couldn’t have come at a more critical time for the Foothill Ranch, Calif., company. Specialty retailers are in the midst of a b-t-s push, and Wet Seal, which said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in June that it couldn’t rule out a “potential reorganization” under Chapter 11, is banking on Alfaro’s designs to reinvigorate sales. Comparable-store sales for Wet Seal have been negative for the past 25 months.

The retailer declined further comment on Alfaro’s departure. But in the statement, Allan Haims, president of the Wet Seal division, said the retailer has “already identified a number of excellent candidates and looks forward to announcing a new designer in the near future.”

Haims went on to say that “this does not change our strategy of creating a unique fashion statement for our target customer by bringing together market goods with merchandise that has been designed in-house.” Haims then thanked Alfaro for the contribution he made in “establishing this new design focus at Wet Seal for the back-to-school, holiday and cruise collections and we wish him all the best in the future.”

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