Morris and Arthur Sidewater founded Charming Shoppes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1940. Within a decade, the duo's first store had become a success, and they brought in their friends, the Wachs brothers, as partners. Soon, the four entrepreneurs were ready to venture into suburban markets, but they decided that their stores should operate under a new name. They launched the first Fashion Bug shop in Audubon, New Jersey, in 1960, and it was a great success. The new Fashion Bug chain spread across the Northeast, and Charming Shoppes went public in 1971.
In 1987, the company officially defined its management structure for the first time, and David Wachs was installed as CEO. Under his leadership, the Fashion Bug line was repositioned to specifically appeal to a new niche--women between 25 and 45. After several years of success, the brand hit a major slump in the mid-'90s, when retail sales across the country took a dip. Restructuring salvaged the company for a while, but it never completely reached its former glory. In 2012, it was announced that Charming Shoppes, Inc., was merging with Ascena Retail Group and closing all of its remaining Fashion Bug stores. The chain officially went out of business in early 2013.
Even though Fashion Bug has been defunct for several years, you can still find a wide array of the brand's clothing available via consignment. Tops were Fashion Bug's most popular products in its heyday, and they were available in a range of different styles. More casual options included tees, tanks, and camis, while fashion tops, blouses, tunics, and button-downs were available for work and dressier occasions. You could also find sweaters and cardigans that combined fashion and function. The brand often tended toward colorful fabrics and materials, and some of its tops included prints and/or patterns. Various coats and blazers were also available for warmth and layering.
In bottoms, Fashion Bug specialized in pants for all occasions. Trousers and chinos were great for wearing to the office, while crops, capris, palazzo pants, and pull-on pants were designed for casual wear. The brand also had a selection of jeans in cuts like straight, bootcut, skinny, curvy, and more. Dresses and skirts ran the gamut from casual to more formal, and popular styles included wraps, shifts, maxi dresses, shirtdresses, gowns, mini skirts, maxi skirts and midi skirts. In intimates, you could find plenty of bras, panties, sleepwear, and loungewear.
Fashion Bug essentially got the raw end of Charming Shoppes' deal with Ascena Retail Group. The new parent was more interested in other brands in the portfolio and shuttered Fashion Bug almost immediately after the acquisition. While it was still in business, however, the brand had many loyal customers who stuck with it for decades. With clothing designs that were relatively traditional, it's unlikely that Fashion Bug's apparel will truly go out of style any time soon, which is why many shoppers in the key demographic will appreciate the ability to buy its garments via resale. We give Fashion Bug 4 stars out of 5.