Can Abercrombie & Fitch come back from the dead?
For years they made their stores as uncomfortable for adults as possible. Excluded anyone who wasn’t tall, thin and desirable. They weren’t ashamed about it and made millions of dollars. Then things went bad. Really bad. Can Abercrombie & Fitch re-invent themselves and return to profitability? If they do one thing is for sure, they won’t care about short guys.
Erika Adams at Racked.com takes a closer look at the challenges A&F faces:
“Effortless, all-American style.” Abercrombie & Fitch works hard to embed that slogan into everything it produces these days, which now includes categories like neoprene crop tops and lace-trimmed midi dresses—quite a different look from denim cut-off shorts, a flannel and flip-flops. But it wasn’t always that effortless: Just a year ago, Abercrombie aimed for the “essence of privilege and casual luxury,” a slogan that was more in line with the cooler-than-you brand high-schoolers in the early aughts pictured Abercombie to be.
Years ago, Abercrombie’s biggest media concern was paying off the Situation so that he would stop wearing its heavily logo-ed graphic tees. Now, in an effort to reposition itself as a more inclusive brand, every move is strategic. The product team hasscaled back logos; there are press previews for new product lines; and the store’s notoriously semi-nude male models put on shirts. Abercrombie no longer sees the color black as taboo, and stores have started stocking clothing above a size 10. The most striking change, however, was an announcement made last month that CEO Michael Jeffries was leaving the company. Bit by bit it might not mean much—plus-size options have only been around for a year, and those male models have only been clothed since the summer—but combined and coupled with the retirement of Jeffries, the changes signify a new phase of the brand, one where Abercrombie exerts a ton of effort in an attempt to find its footing in a heavily competitive and highly digital retail environment.