Abercrombie and Fitch smells like good sex to me.
Of course, I finally figured out why...someone I once knew wore their cologne. Every time I would walk by the open cabana doors at an A&F store, that scent would creep out and attack my senses, practically giving me a hard on. Not to mention the extra-larger than life, mainly nude posters they have hanging in their doorway.
I'll freely admit the store terrifies the living shit out of me. It basically screams "Store for cool kids only". I had no idea what lurked behind those black shuttered windows...group sex? Probably not, but I never cease to feel this uneasy, unwanted feeling when I walk past their doors.
One day I did muster up the interest, courage and timing to go in and visit. In some ways I understand why the clothes are so popular...in others I'm still baffled. The colours and cuts of fabric are wonderful; bright and catchy without being horribly 'faux-cheery' eyebleeders, often cut to fit close on the body. (Either that, or the guys I see wearing their stuff buy too small...but damn, it looks good!)
Of course, there is the bad too...like how completely repetitive the selection becomes. Once you've seen one of their tees, you've seen them all, except they come in 38 different colours. On the 'yikes' side, they sell the most hideous plaid/checked pants that on most people look...well...like hideous plaid/checked pants.
As I ventured into this uncharted territory, not really knowing what to expect, I felt somewhat more calm. Of the few shoppers inside, most were around my age, and most didn't look like completely ripped lunkheaded jocks. But still, I felt like I was a hobo walking through the rich neighborhood, brushing past the fake plants and racks upon racks of polos.
While I started out looking at the clothing, even finding a polo I did quite like, I became ever more aware of the decor. I did not pass by a wall that was not splashed with the photos of a bare-chested, 'all American' beauty standing on a beach.
They were everywhere...some headless, some with God-like facial structures, sometimes even in groups. Eyes already widened because of the lack of interior lighting, I gawked at the portraits hanging on the walls.
I then started to notice the mannequins set up sporadically through the store. In each case, they were cast from an ultra-defined body; not something you would think steroids created but still something so utterly unbelievably well proportioned. Again, they were all bare-chested. Some had shirts on, but unbuttoned and pulled back. Others, vests hung in a similar fashion. One had nothing at all on, except a simple necklace, and a pair of shorts.
I was either in gay heaven or straight men's hell.
But can someone explain the marketing theory behind A&F's store, print ad's and displays?
If I was trying to entice straight males into buying my clothes, I would attempt to have my models look as 'down-homey' as possible. Sure, they'd still be models, but I'd probably keep their shirts on for more of the shots. Also, by hanging a few women off of them, I would think that could help encourage men to buy my clothes, as a sex attractant.
But A&F has seemingly disregarded this entirely. Their models are so beautiful they must be practically unreal. The fact that they're almost nude also adds to the confusion...aren't they trying to sell these hundreds of shirts that are lining the racks? If so, why is everyone running around in various stages of undress?
On top of that is the sheer size of their posters. I stood beside the abs of one model, which consisted of the entire photo, and realized how huge it was...practically 10 feet across. Straight guys are getting one awfully big view of other men's bodies.
Maybe the idea is to pander to the subconscious/buried homoerotic attraction that many straight men pretend not to have.
After leaving, I couldn't get over how insanely gay the entire store is. It's practically a gay playground...all they need is a pool and a bar and they'd be set.
But why is it so damn popular? What is the point of these practically-gay-porn ad's, that are targeted at young 'straight' men?
I didn't end up buying the polo, for a few reason. Mostly, because I didn't want to spend the $70 that day. But also, I didn't want to have to try it on, to have to wait in a lineup (if you can believe it) to see if their Medium is a real Medium like I fit everywhere else, or some unattainably different sizing.
I won't lie, I'd like to believe that one of their shirts would make me more appealing. I definitely have seen guys wearing nothing but a simple A&F tee, perfectly sized on their bodies, and found myself even more interested. So maybe one day, this summer, I'll break down and buy something. It probably won't work, but hey, I do like their colours.
Until then, I'll enjoy their ads from afar.