AEO REAL People: Maple, Associate Merchant

At the very heart of AEO is our PEOPLE. Our associates are REAL. They’re authentic, resilient, and optimistic- each with their own story. Our REAL PEOPLE series highlights those who drive innovation, embrace teamwork and strengthen AEO’s inclusive culture.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Maple always thought it would be fun to work at the American Eagle Outfitters corporate office. Even though she majored in Economics in college, she knew that was not her passion. When she had the opportunity to intern for the American Eagle Merchandising team the summer before graduation, she jumped on it. A successful internship set her up for a spot in the AE Teammates program upon graduation and today, nearly 4 years later, Maple is a member of the Bottoms team where she helps decide what jeans are in AE stores.

“My team collaborates with so many cross-functional business partners, especially with the Design team. My team works with our designers to decide what fits we think our customer is looking for. Design brings our suggestions to life and then we work together to edit the fits until they are ready for stores. It’s all about teamwork!”

Maple had the opportunity to spearhead the Curvy jean fit for women and the Athletic jean fit for men. Both styles target a unique market need for both curvy and athletic body types. The Curvy fit offers women more room at the hips, where the Athletic fit gives guys with larger, more athletic legs the ability to wear a slimmer, trendier silhouette.

“When we rolled out the Curvy fit, I realized just how much of a game-changer this style was for women who could never find quite the right fit in jeans. When it came to the Athletic fit for our guy, it allowed us to celebrate body positivity and body diversity for men, which normally is not something that’s addressed, but is really important to talk about.”

Maple also is very active within AEO’s Inclusion & Diversity Alliance and shared that the company’s REAL culture cultivates her love for the job.

“The work around I&D empowers all of our associates to speak our minds and have our voices heard. I appreciate how open and honest people are in having conversations about change. Working here has taught me there is no substitute for that kind of culture—and it’s one of the best parts about my job!”

We asked Maple what advice she has for those interested in pursuing a career in fashion. She stressed the importance of marrying your love of fashion with the needs of the customer.

“Even if you already love fashion, you still have to really understand the customer, and know their needs for the product you are making. I always say you are shopping for your best friend – it’s not always what YOU think is cute, it’s about what THEY want.”

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