Just when I've finally gotten over the loss of Martin + Osa, American Eagle's aborted attempt at outfitting people in their 30s beyond denim cutoffs and tank tops, the retailer is jilting me again. American Eagle Outfitters Inc. announced Friday that it plans to shutter 77Kids, which is apparently hemorrhaging cash.
I'm surprised, and disappointed. I'm a mom, trying to dress two young boys with a bit of style that isn't overly fussy, or too expensive—considering they've never encountered a pant knee they couldn't rip. And 77Kids seemed to get that—the everyday clothes fit well, held up, were reasonably priced (especially with the frequent coupons), and had a fun, graphic vibe for both boys and girls. It gets challenging to find good kid clothes beyond the toddler sizes, so it seemed a smart niche for American Eagle, especially to pave the way to the mother store. I can't help but feel like American Eagle is giving up too fast—they had to know it would take a while, and considerable marketing muscle, to break parents of their GapKids habit.
I do hope Gap, or some other enterprising children's chain, takes notes on 77Kids stores, which were touted for their interactive elements. My kids loved taking their own pictures at the photo booth, playing the bean bag toss, and looking through the telescope in the fitting rooms. No question, I shopped longer and bought more because they were occupied.
Time to stock up before they begin to liquidate. I still regret not buying extra pairs of my favorite Martin + Osa skinny khakis.