Both young adult retailers have their draws, but a visit to each reveals why American Eagle is consistently outperforming Urban Outfitters and the rest of its competitors. Urban Outfitters was messy and filled with trash across the store, while American Eagle's showroom was neatly organized. The body-positive marketing campaign of Aerie also explained why American Eagle is doing so well.
We stopped by the American Eagle store on Broadway in New York City.
The store's interior was nothing flashy — and that worked really well. The warm lighting and muted colors of the display tables created a relaxed and casual atmosphere.
The organization and cleanliness in the store was off the charts. This massive jeans display was perfectly arranged by size and color — and not one pair was even slightly out of place.
Speaking of jeans, American Eagle had it all. Shoppers could choose from 146 different washes, 13 types of fits, and 39 sizes.
And if none of those styles were inspiring, the American Eagle Maker's Station allowed customers to create their own one-of-a-kind jeans.
There were dozens of different fabric patches to choose from.
Upstairs, we found more clothing in the women's section. There were a lot of prints and flowy skirts in time for summer ...
... and we were completely obsessed with all of them.
Overall, the prices were more than reasonable — this breezy pink skirt was going for $39.95.
We made our way to the Aerie section across the room, where we found a large selection of underwear and athleisure.
There was a 40% off sale for the entire Aerie collection when we were there — plus all underwear was 10 for $30.
Aerie made a name for itself by featuring models of all shapes and sizes in its marketing and social media campaigns. There were signs advertising this throughout the store.
This commitment to visibility of all women has helped the brand grow and gain a leg-up over competitors like Victoria's Secret.
In addition to underwear, we also found this colorful selection of tank tops.
There were a few signs advertising rewards for American Eagle and Aerie.
We went back downstairs to check out the rest of the store and stumbled upon these neatly arranged t-shirts on sale for an unbeatable $10.
American Eagle partnered with resale brand Urban Necessities and opened a pop-up in the store to sell special edition items from Nike, Adidas, and Supreme.
The pop-up section was hip, trendy, and super fun to walk through. The walls were decorated with marker scribbles — we also found a Supreme Pinball machine.
The shoe selection here was enormous.
Some were more expensive than others. These glass-enclosed Nikes were going for $11,000 — and those weren't even the most expensive shoes available.
There was also a station to make your own graphic tees — and we got to see the machine in action.
American Eagle was a pleasure to visit. With the option to design our own jeans and graphic tees, the DIY part of us was satisfied — the organized and extensive merchandise in the store only added to the experience.
We also visited Urban Outfitters.
With its neon lights and unpainted concrete columns, the store's design was more overstated than American Eagle's.
There were interesting abstract murals throughout the store on different walls. But on the whole, the store looked like it was meant to appear as if it was in the middle of construction.
In some places, that theme worked. In others, there was actual renovation work happening. We saw a whole wall being painted before our eyes ...
... as well as a shelf being constructed in the middle of the sale section, which was highly distracting.
In general, the store was filled with out-of-place items and trash where it should not have been.
Boxes like these could easily be found in various sections across the store.
And in some places, it was impossible to ignore.
The underwear section had nothing on Aerie's vast selection at American Eagle. The display at Urban Outfitters was cheap, but it wasn't nearly as pretty to look at.
Like American Eagle, Urban Outfitters offered a touch of the vintage — this photo booth was an interesting thematic touch.
There was also a nice selection of shoes, though it was not nearly as overwhelming as the selection in the Urban Necessities pop-up.
We found a bunch of graphic tees ...
... as well as hoodies. All of the prices were relatively reasonable.
That is, except for this chiffon dress that was going for $350.
There was a sizable home goods section, something we didn't find at American Eagle.
But still, every turn held another mess.
The unorganized state of the store was in sharp contrast to the high level of organization at American Eagle.
Our shopping experience made it clear why American Eagle is dominating its retail sector. From organization, to merchandise, to marketing, American Eagle has found a way to stay ahead. Urban Outfitters, better luck next time.