5 brands we would miss: eddie bauer

Today we come to the end of the “5 Brands We Would Miss” series.  Throughout the week we’ve looked at some of the brands on 24/7 Wall’s list of “Twelve Major Brands That Will Disappear,” exploring what we would miss if they went away. 

Monday covered Budget, Tuesday Saturn, Wednesday Crocs, and yesterday Palm.  I had a hard time deciding which of the remaining brands on 24/7 Wall’s list should make this last entry.  There’s Old Navy with its quirky brand personality and product assortment, Esquire magazine which fueled the metrosexual movement, and Chrysler a brand with such a rich history.  But in the end, I decided I would miss Eddie Bauer the most.eb_logo

Yes, Eddie Bauer now seems like just a run-of-the-mill apparel brand with unexceptional stores and merchandise — but it wasn’t always this way.

The company was  founded by Eddie Bauer — a real person, actually a real outdoorsman–  in 1920 (that’s before REI, 1930’s; and Patagonia, 1950’s.)  He invented the down jacket which got patented in 1940.  Back then, Eddie Bauer was a true outdoor brand, outfitting the expedition in which Jim Whittaker became the first American to summit Everest.

Then the company lost its way, as it was bought and sold a couple of times.  As Eddie Bauer CEO Neil Fiske explained, “Just as much as we’ve lost the identity of the Eddie Bauer brand, we’ve really lost the identity of the Eddie Bauer guy. The Eddie Bauer guy was an adventurer, he’s an outdoor guy, rugged, and over that period…the brand just became more and more women-focused and walked away from the men’s business, the gear business. It became a less interesting brand for men.

The company is now back on track — with a new management team, new merchandising strategy, and a renewed focus on the brand’s heritage and credentials as an outdoor outfitter.  With such an authentic platform and with demographic/lifestyle trends working in its favor, I believe a relaunch of the brand would be a success.

But the brand may go out of business before year-end, as 24/7 Wall predicts — and we will miss out on what could be the revival of a great brand.  Am I right to be bullish about Eddie Bauer or just a sucker for a good brand story?  Please use the comments to let me know whether or not you’d miss the brand and why.

And while you’re at it, let me know whether or not you’d miss any of the other brands from the 24/7 Wall list (the ones in bold are the ones I’ve suggest we would miss the most.)

1. Budget
2. Borders
3. Crocs
4. Saturn
5. Esquire Magazine
6. Old Navy
7. Architectural Digest Magazine
8. Chrysler
9. Eddie Bauer
10. Palm
11. AIG
12. United Airlines (or US Air or American Airlines)

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for participating the series!

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