Things keep getting worse for Abercrombie. The company just decided to close all 29 Ruehl stores, and may close 100 of its 354 Abercrombie & Fitch stores as leases expire over the next two years. Yet the company is hopeful its first New York City Hollister store, opening at the southeast corner of Broadway and Houston on July 16, will mark the start of a less depressing future. The performance of this new Hollister store is important because it will help the company determine how to expand globally over the next few years. (Current plans include an eleven-story Abercrombie & Fitch, to open in December in Tokyo, which will be absolutely terrifying if it’s anything like the techno-blaring Fifth Avenue outpost.) Marketing efforts for the new Hollister store are so aggressive, one might call them desperate. The company is calling the store “The Epic Hollister Store.” They’ve launched a promotional website for it at HCORideTheWave.com, separate from the main Hollister site.
Despite the company’s laughable use of the word “Epic,” the site does point toward a brighter future. For it brings the company back to its roots: attractive, scantily clad surfers. Go to the new website and you’re instantly treated to a video of a shirtless surfer riding a taxi from the beach to the new Hollister store. The logical mind wouldn’t pay the chain’s absurd prices for cutoffs and cotton tank tops, but in boom times, these magical images successfully corrupted the better sensibilities of many a shopper. The company is currently casting for “the coolest, best-looking” store models. The Soho store should be teeming with them when it opens on July 16. So … anyone need new tank tops?