Grown-ups frequently complain that mall stores cater to teens. Yet one by one, the "grown-up" concepts introduced by the big three: Gap (Forth & Towne), Abercrombie & Fitch (Ruehl No. 925) and most recently, American Eagle's Martin + Osa, have failed. Do the chains not understand what post-college shoppers want to wear into their 30s and beyond? Or are those shoppers not buying what they say they want? With Martin + Osa, I'd say it's a bit of both. AE didn't skimp on the trappings at Martin + Osa: the dramatic wood store exterior, the musky scent, the spacious fitting rooms that are like an escape to the country. Perhaps they should have spent more time developing the look of the clothes. A little bit J. Crew, a little Banana – Martin + Osa offered some great basics (I own several), but failed to truly distinguish itself and connect with its intended customer base. That said, shoppers need to step out of their rut, stop complaining and consider the alternatives – or the alternatives disappear and we're left with ultra low rise skinny, relaxed cut capris and not a whole lot in between.
But not quite yet. Martin + Osa is still receiving new spring merchandise and stores, including the Mall of America location, will remain open until they sell through it (sale merch is currently and extra 30% off; jeans are $25 off). Stores will close by July or August – maybe sooner, as people discover Martin + Osa, now that it's getting some attention.