That’s because armor of higher level has higher Azerite power requirements than lower level armor. That means a shiny new piece of Epic gear will have better stats but, unless you’ve been diligent about your Azerite power grind, won’t have as many traits unlocked. You lose options as you earn better gear. Eventually, you’ll grind out enough Azerite to earn those traits back, but you’re left with limited customization until then.
Get your item level as high as possible. Having the best gear is always going to help you when clearing content, so upgrading your individual pieces of armor will be important in the first few days after the expansion’s release. If you’re looking to get ready for Uldir, then you’ll want to be around item level 350 by the time that raid is released on Sept. 4.