Abercrombie & Fitch: has the moose gone south?


After visting Kenwood Town Center's Abercrombie & Fitch it was clear that the brand has made some changes to it's clothing (PHOTO BY NIXON).
After visting Kenwood Town Center’s Abercrombie & Fitch it was clear that the brand has made some changes to it’s clothing (PHOTO BY NIXON).

Entrances into the store typically require a gas mask, a flashlight, and a tolerance for angsty teenage pop. The overwhelming in-store experience is something  that Abercrombie & Fitch originally prided itself on. However, while the brand is just as prevalent as body odor  among elementary and junior high tweens, the moose-clad apparel brand headquartered in New Albany, Ohio has seemed to acquire a bad reputation among high schoolers.

Ben Phelan, a junior, explains that he has seen a change in attitudes towards Abercrombie & Fitch since entering high school. “It’s not really the clothing itself that is the issue.  It is that with the clothing comes thoughts of an awkward and infamous period in our lives: junior high,” said Phelan.

Abercrombie & Fitch uses what’s known as “sexualized marketing” by placing shirtless guys at the door of the store, throughout their catalogs, and even on the bag that you will inevitably carry out. All of this is done in the hopes that tween-aged kids who are desperately searching for a way to fit in and feel “cool and attractive” among their peers will purchase Abercrombie & Fitch for their apparel needs.

Consequently many high schoolers believe that Abercrombie & Fitch should be left behind with our junior high years.

“When I think of Abercrombie & Fitch it evokes thoughts of prepubescent body odor and Instagram abdominal pictures,” explained Joe Molski, who added that he made the sartorial shift to J.Crew and has never looked back.

Others I spoke to expressed issues with the experience that the actual store provides. Abercrombie & Fitch tries to appeal to the adolescent market by appealing to the senses. By liberally spraying cologne throughout the store, dimming the lights, and bumping loud music, they hope to evoke a sensation that makes customers want to not only purchase their clothing but return in the future.

However, while some enjoy the night club experience the store provides, parents and many others often feel vastly overwhelmed. Junior Helen Kemper finds the store repulsive, “It smells terrible and I don’t enjoy the sensation of being thrown into a world of darkness when I enter the store,” explained Kemper.

Mariemont students are not the only ones who have expressed issues with the brand. In a call for change, major investor Engaged Capital LLC asked CEO Mike Jeffries to step down after the company experienced a 77% drop in profits in 2013.

Jeffries who had been CEO since 1992 and led the brand to its peak of success, struggled to innovate when the brand’s target market stopped buying the brand’s clothes.

The CEO was well known for his controversial words when speaking about the brand’s target audience, famously saying, “candidly, 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.”

Abercrobie & Fitch is now making strides towards reinventing brand image andbeginning to remove the moose logo from most of their clothing. Just as well, Abercrombie & Fitch has acknowledged complaints like that of Ms. Kemper’s and began to turn the lights on, turn the music down,  and reduce the amount of fragrance by 25%.

“Abercrombie is making strides in the right direction, but it’s going to take a while before they work their way back into my wardrobe,” said Molski.