The debut of a new store prototype as a way of signaling a significant change in direction seems oddly outdated. Abercrombie & Fitch surely needs to reinvent itself, but today, it's not just about the physical store and it surely isn't about leaning on past brand success.
In the information released leading up to the store opening, I'm not seeing anything that addresses benefits to their target customers, or for that matter a fresh look at who those customers are. The store design is such a complete departure I wonder if it won't be confusing to existing customers and ignored by potential new ones.
To their credit, they have opened up the space, made dual-gender visual merchandising the key message of the storefront and used the word "omnichannel" in their PR. These all seem to be a reaction to their own past rather than the current potential customer and competition.
I will be walking the store when it opens. I'll be interested to see how the product and assortment has evolved. I hope they have trained their staff to be open, inclusive and service-focused, because that is always table stakes.
See the complete discussion on RetailWire.