Before I get started, I’d like to say one word about the earthquake in Nepal. “Tragic.”
Now back to what else is on my mind . . .
In a daring move to bolster twelve-straight quarters of sagging sales, Abercrombie & Fitch is telling their overly-photoshopped male models to put on a damn shirt and cover-up those rippling coconut-oiled six-pack-abs.
It is about freaking time.
Those ads were selling nothing but sex to teenagers. I saw a gigantic billboard of a young man who was seductively leaning against a wall. His head was cropped off and he was bare-chest. Ironically, the only Abercrombie clothing shown on the billboard was two inches of his boxer shorts and three inches of his jeans with a semi-open fly.
Who was the target audience of that ad?
Certainly not teenage boys in the market for jeans and undies. . . but it drove prepubescent girls to plead with their mom to drive them to the nearest mall.
When our (now adult) daughters were at the impressionable ages of 10, 12, and 14, Abercrombie was THE place for kids their age to shop. If you didn’t wear Abercrombie, you were likely to find yourself ostracized and have to eat your lunch all by yourself.
As their mother, it was painful to witness the peer pressure.
I fell victim to our girls whining, begging, and crying and would take them to Abercrombie. I would bravely enter the store for a good two- to three-minutes and then quickly exit to find a bench where I would wait out the ordeal in peace. Unfortunately, the bench was never close enough to an establishment offering adult beverages.
Why would I race out of the store in search of a bar?
1. The music in Abercrombie is louder than an Iron Maiden concert with the amps turned to roughly the same decibel as a fighter jet upon takeoff.
2. They have scent machines that infuse the air with a sickeningly sweet Abercrombie perfume. It makes it hard to breathe and their trademark scent stays in your nose for days.
3. The clothing is ridiculously expensive and so poorly made that even teenagers in developing countries would say, “I’m not wearing that crap even though I made that stupid shirt.”
4. Larger-than-life photographs of scantily clad young men and women throughout the store make even Olympian marathoners have body image issues.
5. The salesclerks are the Abercrombie & Fitch version of the Stepford Wives. Identical, beautiful, and with a combined Body Mass Index equivalent to that of Kate Moss.
6. At special events, or at the drop of a hat, Abercrombie festoons their stores with shirtless male models who mingle with the customers. It is like a teenage version of Fifty Shades of Grey. As they say, sex sells.
7. Also, it was rumored that Abercrombie doesn’t make their clothing in sizes larger than “anorexic” because they don’t want anyone larger than Twiggy wearing their brand. It would ruin their image. The CEO vehemently denied the allegation, but I know from firsthand experience that Abercrombie’s size “extra-large” looks like it shrunk in the dryer.
Let me tell you the real reason Abercrombie’s sales have dropped so drastically . . . like many other parents, I was the one with the credit card in my pocket and was ready to spend money. But it was so bad that I had to leave the store (see Numbers 1 through 7 above) and shopped elsewhere.
They marketed to the kids, but Misters Abercrombie & Fitch forgot who might be paying for their merchandise . . . the parents. The girls may have resented it at the time, but I bet if you were to ask them today, they would completely agree with me.
I’m not a prude, but I applaud Abercrombie’s decision to stop gratuitously targeting young men and women with racy ads and catalogs, eye-candy salesclerks, and beefcake models.
According to a retail research firm, “Abercrombie & Fitch has to find its niche. You are not going to see totally wholesome, but I think the era has passed it by. They need to do something different.”
Thanks goodness. To bastardize a line from my favorite movie, Young Frankenstein, “Those abs in the ads are Abby Normal.”
My uncle did some modeling in the 40s. Now THAT is a what a male model should look like!
As an encore, my next rant might be about Victoria’s Secret and what they are doing to women’s idea of what their bodies should look like.