👖 Abercrombie’s super-high rise

Thursday, May 25, 2023 by Snacks
That’s so Fitch (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

That’s so Fitch (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

That’s so Fitch (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

That’s so Fitch (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
32,800 (-0.77%)
S&P 500
4,115 (-0.73%)
12,484 (-0.61%)
$26,367 (-3.15%)

Hey Snackers,

A hot new real-estate deal is coming to screens, and it isn’t “Selling Sunset”: Paramount+ just nabbed a virtual neighborhood in Roku City (aka: the home display for Roku devices). Your TV screen is going into escrow.

Stocks slid again as the debt-ceiling standoff dragged on. Meanwhile, notes from the Fed’s latest meeting showed officials had been leaning toward a rate-hike pause in June, and have been split over whether more bumps are necessary this year.


1. Abercrombie & Fitch stock pops after a years-in-the-making comeback yields results

Something’s in the air… and it’s not Fierce cologne. Abercrombie & Fitch shares soared 31% yesterday after the mall icon unloaded decade-high Q1 sales, a surprise profit, and a boosted annual forecast. A&F was a middle-school must-have in the early-2000s (moose shirts sold by shirtless models were a status symbol). But in the 2010s its popularity fell lower than a Y2K waistline. Then came a turnaround:

  • New look: A&F stopped aggressively spritzing stores and scrapped the moose logo in 2017 when Fran Horowitz joined as its new CEO, leading an “America’s Next Top Model”-level makeover with Aaron Levine, who revamped its clothing design.

  • Inclusivity: After notoriously refusing to carry sizes above L in the ’00s, the retailer added extended sizing and showed it off in a 2020 ad campaign featuring plus-size models, and has leaned into inclusive marketing.

Super-high rise… A&F’s brand refresh started in the late 2010s but only recently started paying off after serious legwork by top execs. It’s avoided the mall graveyard, despite a critical Netflix doc last year titled “White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch.” The comeback was driven by social media:

  • For You: A&F hired a Gen Z consultancy to expand its TikTok presence and collab’d with TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio to launch a sub-brand called Social Tourist.

  • #AbercrombieJeans: Out of its portfolio of brands (including Hollister and Gilly Hicks), it was Abercrombie’s namesake denim that went viral last year.


A&F found its spending sweet spot… While retailers like Walmart and Target recently said consumers were tightening discretionary budgets, fashion retailers like A&F that hit a mid-level price point (somewhere between Shein and Chanel) are seeing success. This week, Urban Outfitters reported double-digit sales growth for its Free People and Anthropologie brands, and American Eagle delivered record Q1 revenue thanks to Aerie.


2. Amazon workers plan RTO walkout as tech’s corporate morale nosedives

Walking the talk… Employees at Amazon's HQ in Seattle say they’re going to walk off the job next week to protest the company’s return to office (RTO) mandate, layoffs, and a perceived lack of commitment to climate pledges. Organizers are looking for at least 1K workers to participate.

  • Primed: After Amazon announced an RTO mandate in February, nearly 30K employees (about 10% of its corporate workforce) signed a petition opposing the hybrid plan. But 700 staffers joined a pro-RTO Slack group.

  • Returned: Days after announcing another wave of 9K layoffs in March (for a total of 27K since last year), Amazon CEO Andy Jassy rejected the employee petition and doubled down on his three day/week in-office rule (which started this month), despite some offices apparently not being ready for employees until fall.

Big tech’s morale-gorithm appears to be broken… Tech employee morale is said to be plunging as mass layoffs, hiring freezes, and stalled projects have left workers anxious. Even before Meta's 21K layoffs, only 31% of employees were confident in its leaders. Yesterday, Meta wrapped up its latest round of job cuts, which employees said had caused a standstill. Microsoft execs fielded employee questions about “rock bottom” morale at an all-hands this week, while vibes at Google have also reportedly tanked following layoffs and perk cuts.


RTO may be retreating… The number of companies requiring workers in the office full time has fallen to 42% from 49% three months ago. Last year a Gallup poll found that worker engagement had declined the most among workers with remote-friendly jobs who were working from the office. While employers want to get staffers back at office desks to boost collaboration, they risk crushing morale.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • NoFlix: Netflix started alerting US customers that their password-mooching days are over. In countries where it’s already cracked down, Netflix said that initial “cancel reactions” were followed by subscription bumps.

  • Priced: After a nationwide baby-formula shortage, the FTC is investigating whether manufacturers like Abbott (Similac) and NestlĂ© (Gerber) colluded on bids for state contracts in the highly concentrated market.

  • Botlaw: The Biden admin asked for public input as it works to develop a national AI strategy. Calls for regulation have grown as concerns spread over issues like misinfo (see: fake Pentagon explosion).

  • Obit: Virgin Orbit will sell itself to Stratolaunch, Rocket Lab, and Launcher Inc. after going bankrupt. Virgin tried to launch satellites from Boeing jets but never recovered after a high-profile flop in January.

  • Push: Crypto CEO Ryan Selkis is seeking $125M for a pro-crypto lobbying group while Coinbase is running TV ads aimed at DC lawmakers. The moves come as regulators and politicians crack down on the industry.

Snack Fact of the Day

The world’s priciest ice cream, made with rare white truffles, is sold in Japan for $6K/scoop


  • Earnings expected from Dollar Tree, Best Buy, Ralph Lauren, Burlington, Build-A-Bear, Weibo, 23andMe, Ulta, and Gap

Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Walmart

Subscribe to Snacks