Charlotte Russe, the fast fashion brand, is on its last thread. The company filed for bankruptcy and hasn’t found a buyer to rescue the business, so it’s now shutting down its 500 remaining retail stores. It’s another victim of the retail apocalypse, which has vanquished many of the well-known mall brands of the 1990s and early 2000s, including Radio Shack, David’s Bridal, and Wet Seal.
There are some commonalities among the brands that are biting the dust. I’ve already described how many of these retailers hadn’t innovated in terms of the retail experience they were offering in their brick-and-mortar stores. Customers had no incentive to actually go into stores, when they could just as easily shop online from any number of brands competing for their attention.
But many of these brands were known for making cheap, low-quality products. Charlotte Russe was a fast fashion brand, and there’s been some evidence that fast fashion is on the decline, partly because consumers are aware of how devastating it is to the environment. While larger fast fashion corporations like H&M have had a financial buffer to pivot and focus on quality, sustainability, and durability, smaller brands like Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal, The Limited, and Aeropostale have had a harder time reinventing themselves for a new kind of consumer.