Wet Seal isn't the only retailer channeling the California cool aesthetic for its rebirth. Abercrombie's Hollister brand has posted positive same-store sales for the past two quarters, ending a string of declines over the previous four years. Meanwhile, comparable sales at the company's namesake label posted another quarterly improvement, though they remained in negative territory.
Analysts credited improved product, which better balances its fashion and logo merchandise, as one of the key reasons behind the sales inflection. More notably, the retailer was able to boost its sales performance while dialing back on promotions.
American Eagle likewise boosted its fourth-quarter sales amid fewer aggressive promotions. And though the struggling Urban Outfitters brand reported a 3 percent comparable-sales decline, its full-price sales increased. Urban shares shot 16 percent higher Tuesday in response.
Still, questions remain as to whether the inflection in teen retail is real. Analysts point out that it will be tough for several of these retailers to drive sales back toward peak levels in an environment of fewer stores and more conservative spending by teens and their parents.
They also contend it will be survival of the fittest. Shares of Aéropostale, for example, once a key player in the space, are trading for less than 50 cents.
"We've had tremendous consolidation in the retail arena and I do think you'll probably have more," Friedman said. "I just don't see any way around it, especially when spendable dollars aren't that great."