But Aeropostale may have an ace in the hole with 18-year-old fashion guru Bethany Mota.
Her new line is critical because Mota has been successful precisely where Aeropostale has fallen short: drawing a large and growing audience that appreciates her fashion advice. While Aeropostale has seen sales and traffic slip, Mota has built an impressive audience, including 5.6 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, 2.5 million Instagram followers, and 1.3 million Twitter followers.
Aeropostale declined to comment earlier this year when asked about Mota's impact, and Mota's agent, Max Stubblefield of United Talent Agency, did not return calls seeking comment.
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Granted, many retail brands already have accumulated millions of followers over the years, especially on Facebook. But those followers don't necessarily translate into sales. Aeropostale itself has increased its count of Facebook followers for the last few years to 10 million.
What's more important is how often followers actually read, watch and interact on social media sites. Consider Mota's Instagram account, where she frequently posts photos of Aeropostale items from her line. The pictures tend to generate at least 300,000 "likes" within a few days—well above 10 percent of Mota's followers.
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That is a level of engagement that exceeds even Victoria's Secret, a unit of L Brands known for its large social media presence. Victoria's Secret tends to get fewer than 100,000 likes per photo on its Instagram account, which has over 4 million followers.