American Eagle Outfitters, EVP, chief supply chain officer
Shekar Natarajan
American Eagle Outfitters, EVP, chief supply chain officer

Deep Dive

American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) is a preeminent figure in the denim industry, but the specialty retailer’s foray into full supply chain oversight is what is getting people talking. Shekar Natarajan has been at the forefront of the changes at AEO as it acquired logistics company and fulfillment center operator Quiet Logistics and last-mile delivery company AirTerra last year, merging the operations into one new logistics business, Quiet Platforms.

In his role as AEO EVP, chief supply chain officer Natarajan aims to create a supply chain platform that levels the playing field for everyone. “Networks are built analog, but supply chains and commerce have become more digital. We’re basically trying to put the two together,” he said, noting that AEO averages 1.15 shipments per every order, lower than the industry average ofapproximately 1.4 shipments for every order. “And it’s not just fewer packages showing up faster at your doorstep, but more importantly, it’s showing up cheaper as well.”

And in first-quarter earnings call in April, the company revealed it slashed delivery times for online orders by 13 percent. All these facts are crucial for the denim industry given all the current concerns within the supply chain regarding shipping delays and rising prices. At the NRF Supply Chain 360 conference in June, Natarajan showed off a modular, collapsible shipping box system that the company is developing with the idea it could be used to ship items from multiple brands to a customer’s doorstep.

“I see that the world is going to be even more constrained with supply chain assets and so price escalation is going to happen,” Natarajan said. “And so to counter all of that, we need to have consolidation networks.”


What denim buzzword do you think is overused? And what would you replace it with?

Replace sustainable with regenerative.

What do you wish more consumers knew about the jeans they buy?

Beyond the resources alone, my hope is that consumers can recognize and appreciate the hearts, hands, and minds that went into making their jeans, every step of the way.

If you had one request for denim brands, what would that be?

Continue to ask ourselves and each other, “How are we giving back?”

What can other apparel categories learn from the denim industry?

Innovation.

What was your most recent denim purchase?

Slim fit white jeans.

What is your first denim memory?

I started wearing denim when I came to the U.S in 2001. To this day, I still remember how cool I felt—and how excited I was to learn I wouldn’t have to wash them all the time.