Aritzia’s mirrorless dressing rooms spark online outrage but are seen as an effective sales strategy.

Aritzia's mirrorless dressing rooms spark online outrage but are seen as an effective sales strategy.

Aritzia: The Rise of a Retail King

Aritzia - A Retail Success Story

The Canadian retail brand Aritzia has gained staggering success in recent years. It has generated buzz on TikTok via videos that comment on its mirrorless dressing rooms. A retail expert talked to Insider about the strategy behind this decision.

While the Canadian retailer Aritzia has been around for nearly 40 years, it has only recently become more of a household name, especially among Gen Zers and millennials. These younger demographics have increased their spending at Aritzia by 27% from January through June this year, as reported by Earnest Analytics.

However, as the brand has grown in popularity, so have its critics. Aritzia has faced accusations of lacking size inclusivity and diversity in its hires. But the biggest issue plaguing the retailer on social media seems to be its mirrorless fitting rooms.

Customers at one of Aritzia’s 118 stores must step out of their dressing rooms and into a communal space to survey their outfits. The communal space is staffed with Aritzia’s “style advisors,” the retailer’s term for sales associates, who lend their expertise in styling and sizing.

In a popular TikTok video, comedian Becca Bastos playfully impersonates an Aritzia style advisor, sarcastically asking, “Hey, babe, can I get a mirrorless fitting room started for you?” The video garnered over 1 million views, highlighting the anxiety-inducing nature of Aritzia’s communal spaces filled with eager sales associates and boyfriends lounging on couches.

The “fitting-room trauma” experienced by Aritzia customers has become a recurring theme on TikTok. One user humorously mentioned the challenge of trying on bodysuits and sports bras at Aritzia in front of men and their size 0 girlfriends. Others expressed concerns about exposing their body insecurities to everyone in the communal area.

Despite these challenges, some customers have found unexpected support amidst the mirrorless fitting rooms. A TikToker, documenting her shopping trip and what she referred to as “fitting-room trauma,” thanked an honest Aritzia employee who advised her that a bodysuit was too short on her.

It’s evident that Aritzia’s communal fitting rooms have become a subject of amusement and the retailer is aware of it. Even Becca Bastos admitted to using her phone camera as a makeshift mirror, a technique employed by her friends as well.

But why did Aritzia choose to go with this unconventional approach?

According to Manini Madia, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and expert in consumer shopper behavior, Aritzia’s mirrorless approach suggests that the brand believes “people don’t know what looks good on them and they need the help of an expert.” Aritzia aims to create an experience where style advisors guide customers, making them feel comfortable and confident in their choices.

This extra assistance provided by Aritzia mirrors the experience shoppers receive at higher-fashion retailers. Aritzia positions itself as an affordable luxury retailer, akin to Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury fashion department store renowned for its knowledgeable sales associates and personal shoppers, who are ready to offer tailored advice.

Aritzia’s mirrorless fitting rooms go against the growing trend in retail, where many brands are offering customers more control and convenience. Brands like Rag & Bone, J.Crew, and Abercrombie & Fitch have enhanced their dressing-room experiences by allowing customers to adjust the lighting, call for associate assistance, and enjoy more privacy. However, for Aritzia, mirrorless rooms are an integral part of their brand identity.

In response to the social media backlash, an Aritzia spokesperson stated that the communal mirrors are designed to allow customers to view and decide on their preferred looks with the guidance of style advisors. A private fitting room with a mirror is available upon request for customers seeking additional privacy.

Despite the mixed opinions about Aritzia’s fitting rooms, having a trained sales associate who can assist consumers in-store can often lead to more significant sales compared to online purchases. Aritzia’s vigorous in-store sales growth of 53% this year, as stated in its financial report, clearly highlights the advantages of providing an immersive, experiential service.

To further enhance the shopping experience, Aritzia continues to invest in various experiential services, including coffee bars and occasional video-game consoles to entertain shoppers. These added elements, combined with the positive interactions with sales associates, have undoubtedly contributed to maintaining customer loyalty.

Even Becca Bastos, the TikToker who humorously parodied her trip to Aritzia, remains a committed customer. Despite her nervousness about the fitting-room experience, she overlooked the discomfort due to the support and confidence-boosting she received from the sales associates.

In conclusion, Aritzia’s mirrorless fitting rooms, once a subject of amusement and critique, have become a crucial element of the brand’s DNA. By offering customers the expertise of style advisors, Aritzia aims to create a unique and personal shopping experience. While some customers may prefer the convenience and privacy offered by other brands, Aritzia’s commitment to in-person assistance has resulted in thriving in-store sales and a dedicated customer base.