6/17/09

Abercrombie & Fitch

Whenever you walk by this store, you can't help but notice three things: blaring dance-pop music, the cologne-and-perfume odor of the beginning of a high school dance, and a fifty square-foot black and white portrait of some muscular dude's six-pack. I can't tell you what it's like on the inside, as I haven't shopped there for some years now. There are some people in my age group who still do, but I just can't bring myself to spend $70 on a pair of ripped-to-shreds khaki pants or $45 on a simple leather belt. Furthermore, I no longer feel the need to impress eighth graders.

When I was in middle school, A&F was the top dog when it came to fashion retailers. You could be any kind of person at all, but as long as you wore Abercrombie clothes, you could pass for someone popular. "Preppy" was the best word we could come up with to describe any kid sporting a tee reading "A&F '92" or something somewhat similar. One good friend of mine actually had an entire wardrobe of nothing but Abercrombie. I remember this because one day, for some reason, we were going to wear black t-shirts. He didn't have one. I was shocked by this - who doesn't have a black t-shirt? Apparently, the entire Abercrombie & Fitch line of apparel.

In keeping in line with their mission of "providing high-quality merchandise that compliments the casual classic American lifestyle," - and that's straight from the moose's mouth - the folks at Abercrombie have decided that black is too formal, or at least not casual enough, of a color to use in their apparel. According to one of my friends who worked at A&F in high school, the dress code for employees mandates two things: that the color black not be worn and that flip-flops must be worn. Flip-flops, a must? Yes, she said, even in the dead of winter. Clearly, Abercrombie has taken great measures to ensure that its employees present themselves as lazily and sloppily as possible in order to accurately promote the brand's image of "casual luxury."

I look back on my days of buying Abercrombie products not with an embarrassment, but more of a bewilderment. Why did used-looking jeans sell successfully for double the price of normal jeans from other stores? Why did the concept of being a "name brand" slob catch and stick? Most of all, how does a clothing store succeed when its models are 50-90% naked in every photo on every advertisement? I guess this just once again goes to show the power of the name brand. Clearly, a rose by any other name does not always smell as sweet, particularly when that name is the "Salvation Army." I do have to give Abercrombie & Fitch credit for one thing, though: their clothing was about as comfortable and fitting as clothing gets. You know, for whatever that's worth.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting observation. It's true that they don't sell black at A&F, but I was of the impression that it was just because it wasn't a "happy" color. You will, however, find some very, very dark greys and navy shades, and even belts such a dark shade of brown that they might as well be black.

    As far as selling clothes that are "used" looking, that is pretty common across the retail clothing spectrum... check out Gap, American Eagle, Diesel, anything trendy and youthful, and you will find jeans with holes and fading. That style will pass... Already, A&F is starting to sell jeans with a complete lack of fading and distressing, because that's in style now. Also, A&F used to sell jeans that were very baggy and now they sell skinny-jeans and slim-fit jeans, because that's what is in style.

    And the flip-flops... yes you are supposed to wear flip-flops at work, preferably leather treads, as they call them, but you can also wear Converse All-Stars, because they fit in with what A&F considers "American", which makes sense. The half-nude advertisements are sort of unique to A&F... most retailers would rather show you how their clothes look to try to sell them, but A&F isn't trying to sell clothes, they are trying to sell a lifestyle of, as you said it, "casual luxury". They want you to feel hot and sexy... and as a consumer, you should buy whatever they sell to achieve that. It's all about marketing.

    The massive amounts of cologne are also interesting because they give you a very strong scent memory of the store... so that every time you smell that scent, you think of their brand (smart, no?) and hopefully will want to go shopping there. The Fierce men's cologne (which they use to spray their stores) is also specially designed to attract women... don't ask me how, but that's its purpose.

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  2. In case you did not abercrombie and fitch clothing like what you received, the retailer should allow you to return the product with no questions asked. So before you buy Abercrombie clothing from an online retailer, make sure to abercrombie and fitch sale read first its return and satisfaction guarantees to find out if its policies are favorable to you.

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