Through their partnership with Aoyama Trading Co. (really?) American Eagle Outfitters will enter Japan by 2012, with their first store rumored to be located in the new fashion complex in Harajuku where the Gap was previously located.
AEO is part of the American invasion of casual clothing companies entering and expanding in Japan. With Abercrombie & Fitch already making their mark though probably not in the way they intended, they will launch their younger line, Hollister by 2012. Also expanding in Japan is Tommy Hilfiger which recently bought their Japanese license back and has been changing their merchandise assortment globally and for the Japan market. Polo Ralph Lauren's Rugby has thus far been successful by staying away from the A&F business model and also has plans to expand throughout Japan. Another hotly-anticipated entry into the Japan market is of course Urban Outfitters which plans on introducing their URBN, Antropologie and Free People brands in Japan also by 2012. While Urban Outfitters and each of their brands have a relevant style and a real culture attributed to them and will no doubt prove successful in Japan, what can we expect from Hollister and AEO; cargo shorts, flip-flops, and baseball caps or more dark, noisy and malodorous nightclubs?
If AEO and Hollister really do want to succeed in Japan they should look to PRL Rugby as a successful American-brand case study on how to enter Japan and Abercrombie & Fitch as well what it is - fashion-tainment.