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Last summer, the children’s clothing company Gymboree filed for bankruptcy and closed 360 stores across the country. While the company was beloved by many parents for its fun, colorful styles, it also had more than $1 billion worth of debt and was struggling, along with plenty of other mall brands, to face off with digital companies like Amazon. Four months in, Gymboree exited Chapter 11 under new equity owners, and promised a reboot of the brand that would be bigger and better.
Earlier this week, Gymboree debuted its relaunch. In an interview with Fortune, CEO Daniel Griesemer said the big difference would be better-quality clothing and pieces that could be mixed and matched, rather than Gymboree’s classic matching tops and bottoms.
“Millennial parents want quality, mix-and-match-ability, an elevated esthetic [sic],” said Griesemer. “This modern parent learned to shop at H&M, Zara and Forever 21, a completely different way of bringing together disparate pieces and making their own look.”
Except many modern parents don’t seem to want any part of the rebrand. Gymboree’s social media accounts have been flooded with angry comments eulogizing the “old Gymboree” and castigating the rebrand.
“Just went to the website and almost cried. So sad to see collections are gone and clothes look so boring. My daughter wants bright colors and fun details. Why Gymboree why?!?! You used to be so cute and fun and unique,” one Facebook commenter wrote, using the crying face emoji.
Many parents have pointed out that the brand’s new voice and design doesn’t exactly feel fitting for kids’ clothing.
“I want my children to be dressed in age appropriate, cute clothes. I do not want mini teenagers,” one parent wrote on Instagram. “I’ll pass on my toddler wearing a shirt that says ‘study buddy,’ wrote another commenter.
On a photo of a black camo denim jacket, for example, a parent wrote: “You know this doesn’t say sunshine, right? My daughter is not a rebel, and not a preteen. This is not appropriate for her. I don’t want punk rocker, I want color that says sunshine.” Another Facebook commenter wrote, “I want my babies to look like babies, not older than they are. They grow up fast enough, moms aren’t trying to speed that process up.”
Old Gymboree had a very specific look; the company was known for its matching outfits, which often came in bright, fun colors. This style pivot could very well be a nod to the CEO’s roots — Griesemer joined Gymboree in 2015 after running Tilly’s, a teen clothing brand, for five years. On a photo of a girls’ pinstripe blouse, a mother lamented, “I’m so sad that everything I loved about Gymboree is missing from the redesign. What’s fun about adult-looking clothes for kids? Where are the animals?”
Gymboree told commenters on Facebook that the company switched its aesthetic after listening to kids. One mom who liked the rebrand argued on Instagram: “Let’s be honest this is what’s in style and what the kids want to wear. The price point is a bit high for being Gymboree, but my 7 year old found many items she absolutely loved ... I didn’t look at their baby lines (so no opinion on that), but as a mom of an older child, this was a smart move.”
But many are also upset that Gymboree increased its prices. Griesemer has said the quality of the new clothes is higher, and that Gymboree is going to focus less on sales promotions (even though its signature “GymBucks” program was what brought many parents to the store in the first place). Parents on social media have argued, though, that the old Gymboree “looked good and didn’t cost this much.”
“That sweatshirt looks like a walmart special. $40?! Gymboree? No no no. What are you doing?” one Instagram user complained. “44.50 for a pair of KIDS jeans?! I don’t even pay that much for my own jeans, which is way more material! Wow!” one Facebook commenter wrote.
Some parents are recommending that shoppers head to eBay, where more than 129,000 Gymboree items are for sale, and so it’s probably only a matter of time before Facebook groups dedicated to buying, selling, and trading old pieces pop up.