Can Abercrombie & Fitch Ever Reclaim Its Youth?

Share:
Once upon a time, the word 'value' instinctively referred to what a person believed in--their ideals and morals. Skip ahead to present day and you'll find that the term is simply a word to inadequately describe the menu at your favorite artery-clogging fast-food joint. No one really cares about your beliefs; all that counts is that you didn't break the bank while ingesting your future heart attack.
Customer Engagement

Once upon a time, the word 'value' instinctively referred to what a person believed in--their ideals and morals. Skip ahead to present day and you'll find that the term is simply a word to inadequately describe the menu at your favorite artery-clogging fast-food joint. No one really cares about your beliefs; all that counts is that you didn't break the bank while ingesting your future heart attack.Much like fast-food restaurants, stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch (and its nearly identical counterparts) serve up a predictable selection of clothing that helps the Average Joe blend with the crowd. However, A&F has yet to embrace 'value' in any sense of the word. Instead, this chain accompanies its shoddy products with "better than you" attitudes, all at a price you can't afford.

But, as one recent Businessweek article--The Aging of Abercrombie & Fitch--explains, the brand stands stuck between a rock and a hard place. You see, while A&F's target demographic has matured and moved on, the company itself remains stagnant. The teens that once gravitated toward A&F's "sexy, exclusive" style are now practical, frugal adults who prefer comfort over conformity. Today's teens, conversely, are more likely to shop at fast-fashion chains, such as Forever 21 and H&M, as these retailers sell trendy looks for far less. Yet, while consumers speak with their wallets, A&F, for the most part, refuses to listen.

Of course, perhaps the old adage no longer rings true. Perhaps the customer isn't "always right" anymore. But if that is true, then A&F's practices are still beyond wrong. Here are just five reasons why this chain may soon join dELiA*s and Wet Seal in the land of forgotten 90s fashion:

What's that awful smell?

You know you're approaching your mall's A&F when the sickening scent of perfume and cologne comes wafting at you from 50-feet down the corridor. Without any consideration for people who may have allergies, A&F employees go around the store spraying product displays with exorbitant amounts of the signature scents they just can't seem to sell. (Why would anyone need to buy the product when you're bound to come out smelling like the perfume for free?) Offices all over America now mandate that employees working within close proximity cannot wear strong scents because so many have allergies to such smells. Those entering an A&F are more than likely there for clothing, so why must everyone be accosted by the overwhelming odor?

Size doesn't matter (as long as you're young and thin)

Even though this is a free country, and anyone can shop at A&F, they've always made a point of letting customers know who "belongs" in their clothing and who should just keep on walking. For instance, women's jeans range from size 00 to size 12, yet only sizes 00-4 are within easy reach. Size 6 may be reachable if you're tall, but anyone sizes 8-12 has no choice but to ask for assistance. Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, but putting the larger sizes out of reach is A&F's way of telling you you're not wanted. Anyone with a little meat on their bones or a few extra years under their belt is given a lukewarm greeting and treated like an infant for even stepping foot inside the store, though one would hope such discriminating behavior isn't included in their job training.

Nudity won't sell sweatshirts

Reminder: Abercrombie & Fitch is a clothing store. Yes, that fact can be hard to remember considering none of the models actually wear the products they represent. Instead, their models (and occasionally their store employees) romp around half naked as if to say that wearing A&F clothing will make you so attractive that you'll be stripping your new duds in no time. (I've never seen any half-naked men for sale, so I certainly can't leave wearing one of those.) But despite the fact that sex supposedly sells, nothing is more repulsive than seeing a prepubescent boy strutting around at the doorway with his shirt off. Wear a shirt that grabs my attention and makes me want to buy one for my boyfriend, because if you wear nothing, you sell nothing.

Everything's on sale! Except for this, and that, and this...

If you walk into a store and are greeted by a sign that says ALL jeans are on sale, isn't it safe to say that EVERY pair of jeans in said store would be marked down in price to some extent? Not for A&F. Despite the fact that "all" alternately means "any", "every", and "the whole quantity of"--thanks, dictionary.com--A&F feels that, by putting the words "as shown" below such an offer will get them off the hook when you discover not every pair is on sale. However, when the "as shown" price reflects the original cost, there is no sale. Just say SELECT jeans are on sale, that way no one looks like a fool.

It's all about the money

Despite years of worldwide economic hardship, Abercrombie & Fitch still has the nerve to charge $90 for a pair of "destroyed" jeans that will begin shredding the moment you turn on your washer. (Sadly, these jeans cost more than ones WITHOUT holes.) And it's hard to think of the sale tables as actual sale tables when all you see are $60 sweaters marked down to $50. (If you're going to spend $50, that gauzy blouse with significantly less material is definitely more worth the investment...) Their unwillingness to bring down prices must be hurting their pockets more than their customers' at this point because, while people may be willing to overlook some flaws, their wallets are one thing they'll always keep within view.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION