The Downfall Of Abercrombie & Fitch

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Abercrombie & Fitch ripped models Photo credit: The Atlantic

Do you remember the cologne reeking, techno-pumping, dimly lit store with half-naked male models posing out front?

Abercrombie & Fitch hasn’t shut down but it’s nowhere near as popular with teens compared to the early 2000’s. It’s scandals and incidents including the CEO Mike Jeffries comments about not making clothes for fat people led to it’s disappearing relevance.

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Mike Jeffries, CEO 1992-2014 Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

“We go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive, all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”-CEO Mike Jeffries, 2006.

Mike retired in 2014 which saw the brand attempt to re-position themselves as more inclusive and tolerant. Hollister, the sister company targets teens while Abercrombie targets the mature over-18 audience.

Despite re-branding itself with more open, lighter shop floors, there hasn’t been a surge in popularity since Paris Hilton was still on TV. Abercrombie was originally an outdoor fishing and hiking apparel brand sported by rich, old men.

In 1988, they were bought by ‘The Limited'(the same company that owns Victoria’s Secret) but was not marketed correctly until 1992 when Mike Jeffries became CEO. They were worth $335 million in 1996.

Between 2001-2005 it was the most popular brand by rich teens. In 2005, it’s other brand Hollister took the lead spot until 2008.

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Young women excited to see the male model’s six-packs. Photo Credit: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Brewing under this success was scandals of racism, elitism and body-shaming. In 2002 a t-shirt depicting two Asian men with the slogan,’Two Wongs can make it White’.

It even sold kiddie THONGS with ‘eye-candy’ and ‘wink wink’ written on them. Black, Latino and Asian employees claimed they were made to work in the stockroom where they were unseen or discriminated against in interviews.

Abercrombie’s magazine was discontinued after printing images of naked teen models and sex. Openly admitting to only hiring attractive people really hit on Abercrombie’s sales and popularity.

Big, printed ‘look-at-what-brand-I’m-wearing’ logos also fell out of fashion. Wearing an over-priced t-shirt with ‘ABERCROMBIE’ slapped across your chest was trying to hard. It wasn’t cool anymore.

Not matter how much fake inclusive marketing, branding and multi-ethnic models Abercrombie utilize, the modern consumer can see the phoniness. The rise of cheap, fast fashion and similar garments for a better price are dragging Abercrombie to the ground…

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