Nina In New York: Abercrombie & Fitch Takes A Stand Against GTL
A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
Abercrombie + Fitch has got some friggin’ stugats.
Seems as though their historically whitebread, preppy clothing has a celebrity fan in Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. Perhaps he favors them during t-shirt time, or maybe those are their plaid dress shirts which he wears buttoned down to his navel. One must admit, they do enhance his trademark Abdominal Situation quite well. Unfortunately A+F, long the purveyors of clean-cut, freckle-faced, ruddy-cheeked, overly-sexualized young American fun, feel that Sitch is giving their clothes a bad name. He’s sullying their pristine brand with his greasy, tanned ab muscles and his general disregard for the threat of cirrhosis or venereal disease.
So, they’ve asked him to please cease and desist from wearing their clothing. In exchange, they’ll pay him some money. He likes money, right? So, as A+F has so cleverly spun it, this is a “win-win situation.” Har har. Hardy har.
I guess I’m not surprised that they’d attempt to steer The Situation away from their wares. From my own observations, it seems as though Abercrombie is a company which has taken extremely focused in-store efforts to ensure that they service only their demographic of choice. It’s a three-part strategy, as far as I can tell.
1. Play cloying music at decibels designed to be offensively loud and ultimately physically unbearable to anyone over the age of 23. If you are over the age of 30 and find yourself inside an Abercrombie + Fitch, your ears may actually begin to bleed. Don’t worry, this is normal. Just remain calm and find the nearest exit.
2. Blast through every air duct a copious dose of cheap men’s cologne which, in both quality and quantity of scent, smells like the boy’s table at a bar mitzvah. It is chemically formulated to attract 14-year-old girls and make everyone else trigger the visceral memory of their worst, most awkward teenaged makeout encounter. Seriously, I can smell this stuff from the sidewalk and it makes my stomach turn and my hands go clammy and I get all flustered and gangly and have to hurry past.
3. Employ amateur models to stand around and look intimidatingly attractive and cooler and younger than you. If they’re not younger than you, you can stay. If they remind you of your little brother and/or sister and you find yourself resisting the urge to encourage them to cover up for heaven’s sake, you need to leave. Similarly, if you feel as though you might be arrested for standing too close to them, this store is not for you.
Which begs the question: why was The Situation shopping there in the first place? Situation, not only do you look like the creepy chaperon at a middle school dance in there, but you can really do so much better. You’re The Situation! You have to have graduated from the Galleria by now. Let’s keep up with our own celebrity and step it up a notch, please?
“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. . . . [We] believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.”
You know, because none of their tween- and teenage fans watch MTV. Or read the A&F Quarterly “magazine” which features page after page of photos of nude young models romping through the Cotswolds or lounging on a haystack, covering their privates with a pair of distressed jeans. I can see how the aspirations of having good-looking sex and spending money don’t jive with those the cast of the Jersey Shore promotes.
I hate to invoke an “ism,” but do I detect a bit of classism here? It’s unrepentant snobbishness at the very least. What exactly is the lofty aspiration towards which they try to steer their young charges’ impressionable minds? Is it to look like you went to Princeton and know the difference between tacking and jibing? Listen, I’m not pretending that the Jersey Shore cast members are model members of society. But when did a clothing store chain ever set out to protect their teenage fans from the dangers of loose living and crass behavior? It would be one thing if The Situation was using their polo shirts to tie drunk women to the smush bed on camera, making sure the A+F logo was clearly visible. But so far, he hasn’t. I wonder if they just don’t want a bunch of juicehead gorillas and their meatball girlfriends to start invading their stores, reeking of Hawaiian Tropic and daiquiris and scaring off all the prep school kids and driving them away to Ralph Lauren.
Sorry, Abercrombie, but I just don’t think this little stunt is cute. Or fair. Or classy. Frankly, it’s tacky. And while I’m at it, so is that velvet rope outside your flagship location on Fifth Avenue which tourists stand around in order to take photographs of and in front of a store duplicated in nearly every mall in America, thereby blocking half the sidewalk. There, I’ve said it. I feel better.
Damn, now I want a daiquiri.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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