It’s been a rough couple of months for Wet Seal. Thanks to its well-publicized declining sales and angry employee notes-gone-viral, the teenage mall retailer’s dirty laundry has already been aired all over the Internet. And, it seems we've reached the bottom of the pile: Almost immediately after announcing that Wet Seal would close two-thirds of its stores, laying off 3,700 employees, Fortune reports the company has officially filed for bankruptcy.
Sound familiar? It’s only been a few months since another youth retailer, the beloved ‘90s staple Delia’s, announced it was shuttering, marking a general decline in the teenage market. While experts point to intense competition from fast-fashion giants like Forever21 and H&M to explain these financial troubles, slower mall traffic is also to blame. Long gone are the days where teens would go to the mall after school to hang out — but judging from the massive success of Five Below and Brandy Melville, they’re not ditching brick-and-mortar entirely. Unless a company is willing to keep up with the cutthroat business of tracking fleeting teenage obsessions (like Five Below) — or can offer an aspirational lifestyle like Brandy Melville — it's going to have some problems. (Fortune)