Why the curvy jeans trend for women is great news for these two retailers

Brian Sozzi

A fall onslaught (finally) of new curvy jeans options for women could put some meat on the bottom lines of mall-based apparel retailers American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF).

Up until recently, consumers purchasing jeans were relegated to a one-size-fits-all approach, points out Jefferies analyst Janine Stichter. In turn, shoppers have often taken to product review pages of retailers to complain about poor fit. That began to change this fall, however, with many retailers beginning (again, finally) to sell what is being called “curvy jeans” that fit actual human beings — not size 00 mannequins. Sales of curvy jeans are “surging,” according to Stichter’s research.

Curvy jeans are defined by smaller waist sizes with bigger hips. The two main mall retailers leading the charge are American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch. The fact both are leading this trend is good news for their businesses as it could unleash a massive jeans upgrade cycle by female shoppers.

And with more sales of jeans, likely comes the tops specially designed to complete the look.

American Eagle Outfitters debuted its curvy jeans in June ahead of the all-important back-to-school shopping season. Considering about 30% of American Eagle’s business comes from sales of jeans, a big upgrade cycle could meaningfully lift its sales and profits this holiday season.

American Eagle Outfitters' new curvy jeans line.

Already the apparel chain’s curvy options appear to be receiving high interest online.

“Data suggests a strong response to the new silhouette. 1) American Eagle is registering among the top searched terms related to 'curvy jeans'; 2) search interest for AE Curvy jeans has surged in recent weeks, during the core BTS period, and search terms related to Curvy are driving traffic to the e-comm site; 3) customer reviews are extremely favorable, and the large quantity of reviews speaks to strong initial traction; 4) social media traction around Curvy is robust, with nearly 50% more comments on posts related to Curvy vs average post,” Stichter says in a new note out Tuesday to clients.

Abercrombie & Fitch — via its namesake brand and Hollister — is also seeing strong interest in curvy jeans.

“While initial reads are less conclusive than for AEO, the response generally appears positive, and we like that ANF is opting to invest in an underserved category,” says Stichter.

American Eagle Outfitters (left) and Abercrombie & Fitch (right) go after the curvy jeans trend.

Jeans shoppers tend to be loyal shoppers to a particular brand. Once you find a great fit, changing is so hard. Let us re-frame that: *curvy jeans shoppers tend to be loyal shoppers.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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