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Abercrombie & Fitch goes down the drain.

  Ditch Fitch: Now I'm Definitely Not Shopping at A&F

             If all the Abercrombie & Fitch clad youths read the article “The Man Behind Abercrombie & Fitch” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis, would they continue to shop there? How would they react if they knew that the mastermind behind their favorite brand is a raging racist lunatic?

With help from Benoit Denizet-Lewis, I saw Mike Jeffries for the mad scientist that he is, striving to create his monster, the ideal male “all-American” youth. He embodies the persona of a Greek architect sculpting the musculature of some athlete or warrior from marble. And his motto “casually flawless” isn’t really casual at all. He wants his models to look as if they just rolled out of bed, threw on some Abercrombie & Fitch clothing with their eyes closed, and went to class looking fantastic but with that effortless and apathetic attitude. Who actually achieves this successfully? Ironically, there’s a lot of effort behind the “effortless” look. All the shirts are wrinkled and faded, appearing to be “vintage” while the customer bought it fresh off the shelf. I also never understood the ripped jeans-why would you pay someone to rip your jeans for you? Customers are paying overly expensive prices for articles of clothing that are meant to look worn and faded. If this is the trendy look, why not buy clothing at a second-hand store?

What seems surprising but should rather be expected is this ideal that Jeffries produced that he doesn’t even fit into (similar to Hitler and his obsession with blonde hair and blue eyes while he was a brunette!). Jeffries is obsessed with the young generation, yet he’s 61 years old! He’s one of those pitiable older people who can’t accept their aging and instead, try to work against the clock and remain young. His “dyed hair, perfectly white teeth, golden tan, bulging biceps, wrinkle-free face, and big, Angelina Jolie lips” are enough to make anyone shudder. I envision him as this obsessive artificial person, and the more I read of Denizet-Lewis’ article, the more repulsed I became. How did this man get so far? He’s very driven and dedicated to his work, but it’s his mind that’s corrupted. I was in disbelief when he said that he was only promoting to the “cool kids”. Who says that? It’s true that clothing labels usually use attractive people in their advertisements, but who actually admits that they only want to market to “good-looking” people? What a selfish and horrifying statement!

Abercrombie & Fitch take their advertising methods into the store as well. Jared Foltz, after attending a conference on Abercrombie & Fitch titled “Are you buying the clothes or are the clothes buying you?” reported that the store is made to appear as an exclusive environment. Deafening club music thumps throughout the dimly lit space as colossal photographs of defined bodies make you reexamine your own. Added to this already intimidating atmosphere, the employees walking around look like models and pay no attention to customers. What’s even more appalling is that the minorities hired are only allowed to work in the back of the store, out of the visibility of the customers.

It’s an easy task to picture Jeffries back in high school as one of those kids who felt he needed to be in with the “cool crowd” to feel accepted, but was never allowed entry. His conformity is displayed through his wearing Levi’s all throughout high school, and his statement that if you weren’t wearing them, you were “weird” supports his complete insecurity and failure at finding his true identity. He never had the typical “all-American” high school experience that he desired so much and is now trying to do so, at 61 years old.

Abercrombie & Fitch is geared towards an exclusive customer, yet as Denizet-Lewis says, it has a “mass appeal.” How would the customers who don’t fit that Abercrombie & Fitch body type and character feel knowing that they’re not meant to be wearing those clothes? Apparently all that matters to Jeffries is the target consumer and if that rare group of people is satisfied, then his mission is complete. So then why does everyone else keep buying those clothes, even after prices have increased to ridiculous amounts? Everyone wants to personify that flawless youthful being, which only a few possess. While Jeffries wants only to appeal to the “all-American youth” he can relate more to everyone else generously adding to his profits who are just like him and want to fit in.  

The conclusion of “The Man Behind Abercrombie & Fitch” shows a glimpse of the true Jeffries at work. His meticulous concern over the size of the male mannequin’s crotch and how low his pants should sag until they were almost falling off was quite comical, even though I’m sure Jeffries’ brows were furrowed when contemplating such an imperative issue. His statement, “Let’s get them as low as we can without them falling off. We don’t want him looking like an old guy,” supports his complete fear of aging. Overall, Jeffries really irked me. I found it especially disturbing that someone that old should be so fixated on the sex appeal of such a younger generation. I think the question that surfaced in most peoples’ minds was how did this man get so far? 

take me back home! 

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