I find indoor mega malls weird now. I used to go to the mall all the time until I moved to NYC (which often feels like a giant, overcrowded outdoor mall) so I’m almost never in a regular mall anymore.
Regarding the retail clothing business model. Each store is branded to appeal to a particular “lifestyle”. The Gap owns several brands. Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic in accending order of price and “fanciness”. Each store is designed to appeal to a different market segment. If you are a working middleclass mom, you’d buy affordable clothes for the kids at Old Navy (or ON in the idiotic initialization our culture embraces). If you are a young, hip, but still frugal high school or college student, you would shop at The Gap. A more affluent 20 something in his first job, Banana Republic.
A banker or lawyer making $150 K a year? None of the above. You’re going to Ralph Lauren, Thomas Pink or Brooks Brothers. And I’m sure there’s even more expensive crap that I don’t even know about because they actively avoid marketing to people of my income bracket. Like wherever Donald Trump buys $1000 gold ties.
A&F used to be more like a preppy high end catalogue company like L L Bean or J Crew back in the 90s but has more or less been rebranded to appeal to “gay men and girls with sunkissed skin and medium sized breasts who get together at dawn to play topless flag football”. Before they spun them off, A&F used to be part of Limited Brands which also included Structure and Express. Basically “gayer” and more metrosexual versions of their Gap equivalent.
Speaking of J Crew, I basically view them as a cheap Brooks Brothers knockoff lifestyle retailer. In college (early 90s), people would describe things as “J Crew” meaning overly preppy and pretentious (which was ironic since most of the people who used the term were pretty J Crew themselves). Pretty much the only place you could get their clothing was through the catalogues that magically appeared in every college students mailbox three times a month. So pretty much the only people you ever saw dressed in barn jackets, peacoats, wool rollneck sweaters, henley T shirts and other crazy crap with weird names and stories attached to them were on upscale college campuses.