Thursday, August 18, 2011

Abercrombie and Fitch: Discovering Taste

Believe it or not, Abercrombie and Fitch has its limits.

The young folks fashion store, also known by its initials A&F, has nothing to do with the old Abercrombie and Fitch that used to cater to the outdoorsy set.  That company was full of rugged outdoor wear and upscale hunting and camping gear.  The current one has only the name in common.  Too bad.  If there were a less tenuous chain of relation, it'd be pretty cool to be part of a company whose roots went all the way back to the 1890s.

They still claim it of course, but I don't give it any credence.  Buying a name isn't like growing up with the name.

A&F has been in the news recently for a few little tidbits that have garnered some notice.  For starters, the stock price has been on an upward spiral since January of '09, gaining about 400% in the two-plus years that have elapsed.  That must be a heady experience for shareholders in general.  They're down a bit over the last month, but who isn't?

A couple of months ago, pundits, moms and probably shareholders took A&F to task for its unveiling (ha ha ha) of their new push-up bikini intended for younger girls.  Like, seven-year-old girls.

There's optimism, and there's just plain silly.  There's nothing to push up. And why would you want to?  Isn't seven a little young to be getting into the whole bigger-is-better routine?  I thought we were trying to raise kids with a little less self-consciousness about how they were shaped.  They've since stopped calling it a "push-up" anything, but A&F haven't pulled it off the shelves, either.  No word on how well it's selling, but I hope it's very poorly.  Most of the parents I know would prefer their kids that young, boys and girls alike, just be happy being kids for a while longer.

This last may have stayed in the news cycle a little longer, or come back around, when Vogue recently featured a tarted-up 10-year-old on its cover and in its pages in its most recent issue.  At no point does the child look like a fully-vamped adult, either - she looks like a kid with some serious Dress Up skillz once she's gotten access to mommy's closet and warpaint case.  One wonders what Vogue is doing, even putting her in the magazine.  It's an utterly unrealistic image to portray.  Do the adult readers aspire to that appearance?  Too late for that ladies - you've got boobs now.  Is Vogue hoping to attract younger readers?  Well, maybe a few less Virginia Slims ads, Buick ads and they've got themselves some potential.  Of course, your average preteen has next to no spending cash, so that may be a bad market to expand into.

There I go, ending a sentence with a preposition.  Sorry, Kathy, if you're reading.

But now the latest blip in the news is A&F is asking a "celebrity" to stop wearing their products.  There's something you don't see too often, and frankly I find it astonishing.  Where a lot of publicists carry the mantra, "there's no such thing as bad publicity," A&F has decided, as a corporation, that there is.  And who is this undesireable person?  No less than Michael Sorrentino, "the Situation" of MTV's Jersey Shore show.

I've ranted about Jersey Shore before.  I won't cover that same unpleasant ground again.  The sooner JS goes off the air, the better - and takes its loudmouth buffoons with it.  And it would appear that A&F has the same opinion.

Abercrombie and Fitch used the term "aspirational" when describing the look they want their fashions to portray.  I'm taking that to mean they want the people wearing the clothes to look like they aspire to something.  Since all I get from The Jersey Shore is a bunch of 20-somethings that have little to do but party, drink, tan and hang out, I can see where there would be disharmony between the two.  A&F wants to be associated with people who are trying to make something of themselves, and The Jersey Shore conveys little evidence of making something of anything except comments overheard at bars.

If I made clothes, I wouldn't want my brand associated with a bunch of hangers-on.  Get a real job, you slackers.  Put on some no-name overseas-made jeans while you're at it.

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