Aerie stands out as a bright spot on American Eagle Outfitters’ most recent financial reports.
For the third quarter, the teen retailer reported an overall 0.4 percent increase in comparable sales, while Aerie’s sales jumped 21 percent.
The intimate apparel brand, which was introduced in 2006, is resonating with a younger customer who’s drawn to its body-positive campaigns, inclusive messaging and brightly colored bralettes and leggings.
That brand story is fully represented at Aerie’s first New York concept store, a pop-up located at 72 Spring Street — C. Wonder’s former space — and will open on Dec. 8. Aerie has the space for a year.
“For the last six quarters we’ve had significant comps and we just thought it was time,” said Jennifer Foyle, Aerie’s global brand president. “We really want to engage with the customer and leave them with something warm and special.”
The 5,100-square-foot shop is divided into mini rooms. At the front of the store is a recharge area where customers can sit, charge their phones or drop a love letter to Aerie in a designated mailbox. Opposite that is a section dedicated to bralettes — a category that continues to be a bestseller for the brand.
“We love the bralette,” said Foyle. “I think they are here to stay. They are like leggings.”
The pop-up also includes a gifting area, which sells a variety of third-party odds and ends including a Taylor Swift coloring book (“Colour Me Swiftly”) and Unicorn Snot, a pink glitter body gel. This section is stocked with Aerie’s newly launched beauty brand, which is merchandised with popular Korean skin-care lines Tony Moly and Zoella. Nearby is a customizable gift-wrapping station that offers knit pom-poms instead of traditional ribbons and bows, and next to that is the “Brands We’re Crushing On” cart that currently showcases Julie Nolan jewelry but will rotate down the line.
In an effort to support female entrepreneurs, the store will sell flowers arranged by Ashley Custer and Kristin Heckler of Uprooted Flower Truck; laundry detergent from Lauren Singer’s Simply Co., and stationery from Sabrina and Eunice Moyle of Hello! Lucky. Each brand owner will cohost events at the store.
In order to differentiate this space from competitors, Foyle said Aerie is honing in on service. For example, an underwear bar and bra station will be manned by associates to help shoppers find the product best suited for them.
Another point of difference is the fitting rooms, which veer away from a sexy boudoir motif and instead err on the side of cozy teenage bedroom with inspirational quotes painted in each changing area.
“We want moms to come in with their daughters. We envision this area being one big party,” said Foyle.
The back of the store is filled with Aerie’s newly launched Chill.Play.Move. line, which consists of printed leggings, sweater jackets, knits and sports bras.
According to Foyle, Aerie is looking for a permanent location in New York. In 2014 it closed 20 Aerie stores, but by the end of the year Aerie will have 76 locations placed next to American Eagle Outfitters stores and 100 stand-alone shops.
“We’ve been rightsizing the Aerie stand-alone stores,” said Foyle, who added that 80 percent of American Eagle Outfitters shoppers are Aerie shoppers. “Aerie is very concentrated on the East Coast, but we are opening in places where we aren’t highly distributed.”