Wet Seal is closing all of its stores, because '90s mall culture is officially dead
Though TV and movie reboots definitely make it seem like the ’90s are more alive than ever, a major part of that golden decade is officially dead as of this week: Wet Seal is closing all 148 of its remaining stores.
Meaning teen girls who just got their $10 per week allowance (sorry, has it gone up since ’98? Are we ancient?) will no longer be able to flock to the ailing brand for peasant tops, denim micro-minis, and butterfly clips (yep, ancient).
This news isn’t totally unexpected, as Wet Seal closed 338 of its then-511 stores back in January of 2015, also filing for bankruptcy protection.
Undoubtedly, competition from stores like Forever21 and H&M attributed to its demise, but it’s not just the Seal that’s feeling the heat — brands like Macy’s and Sears are also shuttering hundreds of stores as consumers ditch malls and shop online, while American Apparel will soon lay off more than 3,500 manufacturing employees.
In a letter dated January 20th that was obtained by the Wall Street Journal, the brand’s Vice President and General Counsel Michelle Stocker informed 148 employees in the company’s headquarters as well as those working in the 171 stores that they would all be losing their jobs. And while it’s fun to joke about our awkward teen selves for the trends we chose to spend our hard-earned cash on, hundreds of people losing their jobs is the polar opposite of a laughing matter.
“Unfortunately, the company was unable to obtain the necessary capital or identify a strategic partner, and was recently informed that it will receive no further financing for its operations,” the letter read.
Current employees have been mourning their loss and sharing their Seal-love with hashtags like #sealstrong and #fightfortheseal, and it’s a sad-but-sweet reminder of how memorable and formative mall retail jobs can be for young people needing job experience.
Ugh. Is anyone else feeling very, very guilty that they haven’t been to a mall in years?
We can’t exactly say we’ll miss shopping at Wet Seal since it’s been a hot minute, but we’re definitely mourning the demise of the American mall, and the culture of nostalgia around it. We also mourn the massive job loss, and hope all Seal employees find badass, lucrative positions elsewhere as soon as possible.