We all know about Abercrombie & Fitch’s much-publicised business problems and how it’s racing to leave behind the oh-so-white, overtly sexy image that turned it into Aber-zombie on the sales front.
Well it’s about to release a new collection and a new campaign that should help it further its ambition to return to full health.
Why is it needed? Abercrombie saw sales tanking as an influx of fast fashion chains offered the youth market what it wanted trend-wise at lower (much lower) prices.
At the same time, a lack of ethnic diversity in its marketing, a highly sexualised image and some well-publicised issues with discriminatory employment practices saw it turning into the poster child for an outdated approach to retail and the departure of its long-term CEO.
Mike Jeffries really did once say that he hired “good-looking people in our stores, because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
Presumably, he didn’t think they should refuse to take the cash of those of us less good-looking but in the end, the good-looking and the rest of us decided to move on.
The answer to get us all back? This new collection and campaign. It’s targeting 20-somethings for pre-fall with a denim range featuring a wide variety of washes, styles and fits.
There’s a jumpsuit, cropped flares and wider-leg boyfriend silhouettes as well as the regular skinnies, flares, straight-leg, and narrower boyfriend and girlfriend styles.
There’s also a big focus on stretch denim allowing the company to offer a super-skinny cut, as well as a new Japanese selvedge denim. Priced at $160, the latter is a sign that A&F is aiming to compete with fast fashion chains by focusing on quality and good design rather than price.
Creative director Ashley Sargent Price said denim is part of the brand’s heritage and the new collection mixes that heritage with trend pieces.
So, to the campaign. Well, it’s clearly more diverse than usual and while the models are all traditionally slender (plus-size may be a step too far even for a reborn Abercrombie) they’re very different from the campaign stars of just a few seasons ago. The male models don’t look like junior Chippendales and the female variety are exuberant participants than sex objects.
A film, called The Blues and featuring a song by Bo Diddley, will air along with the new ads. Let’s hope it works and the brand doesn’t have the blues any more.