My first big project at Abercrombie was a site re-architecture for all four brand (Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie kids, Hollister, and Gilly Hicks).
The old taxonomy was driven by merchants and season, so the organization had become very messy over time. Wayfinding cues were very poor and inconsistent, and there were confusing industry terms being used for customer facing text.
Our approach involved competitive reviews, card sorting, internal research into decision history, existing requirements and brand guidelines. I realized that there was very minimal existing understanding of information architecture and user experience. I had a choice, educate or dictate. I chose education, believing it would have a deeper more lasting impact, and spent a lot of time creating a new taxonomy with all the of the merchants.
We ended up with a pattern driven ontology that had appropriate information chunking and way-finding cues. We added new features like sub-nav drop-downs, a visible evergreen promo spot, planned for search (which was coming later in the year), and created proper visual hierarchy for primary links and utility navigation.