American Eagle Outfitters, CEO
Jay Schottenstein
American Eagle Outfitters, CEO


American Eagle Outfitters CEO Jay Schottenstein's laser-sharp focus on jeans is paying off.

Deep Dive

While other executives have been distracted by the rocky retail landscape and consumers’ penchant for activewear, Jay Schottenstein has remained focused on denim. And it’s paying off.

Under his leadership, American Eagle Outfitters, which has made denim a pillar of its namesake brand, recorded its 20th straight quarter of record jeans sales in Q2.

“I’m proud of the outstanding progress over the past four years,” Schottenstein said in call with analysts. “Our teams have successfully transitioned AEO during a period of real disruption in the retail sector. We have grown into a multi-brand company with two of the leading brands in the industry, American Eagle and Aerie.”

In fact, thanks to denim, American Eagle is right where it wants to be: top of mind for teens. The company’s denim selection and on-point marketing has propelled it to the No. 2 spot for top clothing brands in Piper Jaffray’s 2018 Gen Z survey, Taking Stock with Teens.

Schottenstein, who has held the CEO title for more than 14 years over two different stints, has been instrumental in establishing the American Eagle brand as it stands today. “Our strength in this important lifestyle category has been the foundation of our long-term success and the primary reason why American Eagle is a market leader today,” he said. “We remain highly focused on developing the very best new fabrics, fits, and styles to continue to be the leader in jeans.”

The company underscores its denim innovations in its fall Make Moves campaign, which showcases artists and athletes putting its Ne(X)t Level flexible jeans styles to the test. The ad spots complement the brand’s True You Sizing initiative, which celebrates a variety of body types with a selection of extended sizes and lengths.

To give true denimheads a home, the brand has launched the AE Studio concept. The retail store is designed to be a shrine to jeans with one-of-a-kind pieces, capsule collections and even a free laundromat.

“We know what the customer wants. We’re getting great response, and I really believe that in the next few years we could be the No. 1 brand in the United States for selling denim and be the No. 1 name for denim,” Schottenstein said.