I always wondered if I’d recognize what’s wrong with the word if I saw it. The other day I stared it right in the face; Abercrombie & Fitch. This company once legendary as supplier of top end outdoor gear has become a showcase for what society has become; image is everything, thin is in, and beautiful people are better then non-beautiful people. OK, it’s not as bad as I let on, but cripes, did I feel out of place.
I needed to go to A & F to pick up a gift card for someone obviously younger then me. So I set off to the Burlington (MA) Mall to get it done. At first I thought it was closed for renovations as all the display windows were covered by something resembling storm shutters. However I realized the rumbling electronica music I was hearing was not from the mall sound system but coming from A & F. So, I warily step into the open doors and the music is, frankly, deafening. I’m not being some old prude when I say this as I have attended concerts and been to clubs that would make your ears bleed. But, for a retail store, it was ridiculous. So, I proceed to find a register and sales associate to get my gift card and get the fuck out of there. Well, apparently you need to be a size 1 to work there as a woman and have wavy hair and abs as a guy. The first 2 I encountered couldn’t even look up from their convo to acknowledge my fat ass. So, I wandered aimlessly until I found a counter with someone working (another size 1 apparently). I waited 5 minutes for her to fold 2 pair of pants into a bag and cash out the young couple in front of me. I tell her I need a gift card for $100. She says “what?” over the din of the afore mentioned music. So I repeat, I need a gift card for $100. And she says “oh, sure a gift card, for how much”. I roll my eyes and say, um, $100? Now I am instructed to pick out a gift card. My choices are to hot women, a guy and girl kissing, what appeared to be 2 guys about to kiss, etc. So I pick one and hand it to her and she asks “so, how much do you want the gift card for”?
There is no moral to this story. The place simply made me feel old, fat, and out of place. So, pretty much it was reality. I guess more then anything it bothered me that it so flew in the face of the “rules of retail” yet is one of the most successful clothing retailers on the planet. You simply don’t cover your display windows, don’t play music so loud you need to repeat yourself constantly, and you don’t ignore customers and remain successful. Yet, A & F not only flourishes but also has become a pop culture icon. Maybe I’m just plain getting old and out of touch, well, actually I am and I’m not sure it bothers me