When it comes to U.S. apparel chains, Club Monaco is probably the most stylish after J.Crew. And while we've been noticing marked improvements in the women's offering recently, the menswear department has been enjoying a moment of its own, thanks in large part to Aaron Levine, Club Monaco's vice president of men's design for the past four years. His work got the attention of the troubled Abercrombie & Fitch, who just hired Levine as its head of men's design, a rep for the teen retailer confirmed to Fashionista.
Formerly of Rogues Gallery and Jack Spade, Levine ushered in a new era of menswear for Club Monaco, bringing a more elevated design sensibility that coincided with the opening of standalone men's shops and the brand getting picked up by Mr. Porter. He and his exceptional facial hair also repped the brand in a number of men's magazine features. We've also learned that a few months ago, Abercrombie & Fitch hired Kurt Hoffman, formerly Club Monaco's senior director of men's merchandising, as general manager of A&F men's. Hoffman's responsibilities include "all global design, merchandising, planning and inventory management functions for the Abercrombie & Fitch Men's Brand," according to his LinkedIn.
As you've likely heard, Abercrombie & Fitch is in the midst of a rebranding. We've already heard what it's getting rid of — including dark lighting, heavy scents and shirtless models in stores — but not what it's bringing in. The hiring of Levine and Hoffman suggests that Abercrombie is interested in giving its product a fashion-forward overhaul, which could help it compete with the fast-fashion retailers eating away at its marketshare. Levine, fortunately, has proven his ability to bring a mass retailer up a notch on the fashion scale.
This post was updated to no longer describe Club Monaco as a "mall brand," as the majority of its stores are currently standalone.
This article was updated to include the hiring of Kurt Hoffman from Club Monaco.