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Wet Seal might be approaching the same sad fate as Delia's and Deb. Buzzfeed News tracks the teen retailer's demise over the past decade to show how it arrived at its current state of near-bankruptcy, and not surprisingly, things aren't looking good these days. The teen sector has been a major source of trouble for retailers that thrived in the late '90s and early 2000s, and although Wet Seal tried to pivot towards the older 18-24 age bracket within the past year, more sophisticated designs won't start showing up until early 2015—which may be too late for the ailing brand.
The report details how, over the past decade, Wet Seal never really found its core customer no matter how hard it tried. It hasn't escaped corporate troubles, either: Last year, Wet Seal paid $7.5 million to settle a race discrimination lawsuit after company executives were caught trying to fire African American employees to maintain their brand image. Evidence of discrimination included a shocking email from a senior executive that read, "Global Issues: Stores Teams - need diversity African Americans dominate - huge issue," which she sent after visiting stores in Maryland and Philadelphia.
The company is still plotting a turnaround, according to the report. As Buzzfeed News points out, Wet Seal has proven itself adept at staying alive. The New York Times ran a report in 2004 counting the days until Wet Seal declared bankruptcy due to its trouble selling to teens, and it hasn't actually gone bankrupt yet.
· Wet Seal Could Be The Next '90s Icon To Die [Buzzfeed News]
· Delia*s Stores are Liquidating Right Now [Racked]
· Forgotten Mall Mainstay Deb Calls It Quits [Racked]