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Critics call Abercrombie & Fitch catalog soft porn.
June 22, 2001 12:26 AM   Subscribe

Critics call Abercrombie & Fitch catalog soft porn. I can't comment on the catalog itself, since I haven't seen it; I just had to laugh out loud though when I read this sentence: "Boycott organizers contend the company... is wooing younger customers and using sex to popularize its image." Oh, the horror! Also striking was A&F's spin on it, calling it " the Norman Rockwell of 2001." Clearly, a divide in perceptions. Can anyone who has seen the offensive/inoffensive material in question explain why it is/isn't any different from the marketing practices of, oh, say, everyone else?
posted by topolino (23 comments total)

 
I heard this about a month ago from a female friend of ours who is a devout Christian. She came over to our house and our oldest son was wearing an A&F t-shirt, and there was an A&F catalog on the kitchen counter. She wasn't histrionic about it, but did let us know that she hated A&F for the sex in the ads. I've been buying stuff from them for about 10 years, mostly t-shirts, because they're oversized, pre-shrunk, thick 100% cotton and they last 4 ever. Looking at the catalog objectively, I can see what they're talking about - they use sexy models, pouty-lipped rail-thin females, and ruggedly handsome guys with big chins and wind-tousled hair. Some bra-less females here and there, short skirts and very tan guys without shirts in the shorts ads. No more so than lots of other advertisers, though.

If anyone was going to get upset about sexy ads, there are other more blatant targets. How about, say, Victoria's Secret? If there's anything to get upset about concerning A&F, it's probably that they peg the yup-o-meter. Even there, though, they fall short of companies like Paul Stuart or Paul & Shark. I think the moral is that snarky people will always find something to bitch about.
posted by JParker at 12:50 AM on June 22, 2001


Some photos in the catalog are indeed soft + kiddy pornish. Some photos are just too blatantly out there to even be labeled as "hints." Not to sound puritanical, but if this was sold in news stands, it would have brown paper wrapped around it.
posted by tamim at 12:51 AM on June 22, 2001


Don't mention Abercrombie & Fitch to me. I took just one little peek inside to see if they had any semi-naked hot chicks that look like they would never talk to me, and then I passed out from the sheer weight of the bulging six packs. I never knew what hit me.

I wake up, I'm in behind the wheel in a black van with no windows and some sort of air brushed Aztec god on the side that looks like Antonio Banderas. I'm listening to the Weather girls and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. There's like, five or six guys passed on in back, I can't tell `cause they're all tangled together, but most of `em are only halfway wearing their Navy uniforms.

I've got a horrible case of what I hope to god are simply hemoroids, but I think that's just wishful thinking.
I need to get this baby oil off...

Damn you, Abercrombie & Fitch!
posted by dong_resin at 1:05 AM on June 22, 2001


The moral of dong_resin's story: A&F turns you into a raging homosexual. *pause* Yeah. That sounds about right. Worked for me, anyway.
posted by littleyellowdifferent at 2:27 AM on June 22, 2001


Hey, you can sell those catalogs on ebay for a good price. I got $10 for mine, they paid shipping. Not bad for something I got for free in the mail.
posted by Hackworth at 2:28 AM on June 22, 2001


There was a moral? Neat!
posted by dong_resin at 3:58 AM on June 22, 2001


Pssst...
posted by crunchland at 4:47 AM on June 22, 2001


Whoops.
posted by topolino at 5:47 AM on June 22, 2001


Pshaw...much ado about nothing.
posted by rushmc at 5:55 AM on June 22, 2001


Conservative icon William F. Buckley seems to love the catalog.
posted by owillis at 6:28 AM on June 22, 2001


i was watching a news story on the A&F controversy--apparently, as earlier mentioned, the Lt. Governor of IL is spearheading the protest, at least here she is. they did mention that in one issue, an article on jenna jameson (famed porn star, not that i would know that) was opposite some inspirational story on some 9 year-old boy. now that was pretty tasteless (and jameson was quoted in the story as saying so).
posted by moz at 7:05 AM on June 22, 2001


I think the 'furor' isn't about the fact that they're using sex to sell products, it's that they're using it to sell products to kids. I know, not exactly new stuff here, but still.

I never could relate to the idea of wanting the name of the store you bought your clothes at plastered all over yourself. Always prefered generic subtlety. Ah whatever.
posted by glenwood at 7:11 AM on June 22, 2001


Actually, all joking aside, there is a serious queer cult around the A&F catalog. I know an awful lot of guys who umm.."subscribe"...

A&F is smart - they did a good job developing the "maga-log" idea...create enough "content" and make the catalog pretty enough that folks might even pay for it..
posted by preguicoso at 7:34 AM on June 22, 2001


They didn't develop the idea. The "maga-log" idea has been around at least since the late 70's, when International Male and Undergear started selling their catalogs on the magazine racks of national bookstore chains like Waldenbooks.

Ironically, these two publications were also sources of "legitimate" homoerotica, but they were doing it when it was socially more dangerous.
posted by crunchland at 7:40 AM on June 22, 2001


whoops... Undergear, if you're so inclined.
posted by crunchland at 7:42 AM on June 22, 2001


Crunchland...

I didn't mean that A&F invented the magalog idea...I meant they developed it in the sense of taking off with the idea and further developing it...

As far as advertising masquerading as legit, pay-for content....definitely nothing new about that...
posted by preguicoso at 7:44 AM on June 22, 2001


Oh god, I adore International Male.
A&F isn't so great, except for the shopping bags that they hand out when you buy something from them. I don't like to buy the clothes, though, so I have to go get my A&F bags by begging the clerks for a freebie.
posted by chason at 8:55 AM on June 22, 2001


I'm seeing a lot of comments from people saying "Yes, the models look provocative, etc, but it's not too much different than other catalogs". I'd have to disagree slightly. For the most part it's not much different than other catalogs / magazines, but i got a catalog in the mail perhaps a year and a half ago (one of those 200-page books), and there were at least two or three pictures in there where the women were actually topless. Yes they showed breasts in a clothing catalog. So I'd say that it's somewhat understandable why the more conservative portions of society might be a little taken aback by it.
posted by jnthnjng at 9:50 AM on June 22, 2001


International Male is fantastic. (and I love the catalog too!!) A&F has a good catalog, but their stuff is so overpriced. Fact is, children don't buy things, their parents do. So let their parents look at the catalog, don't address it to the kids, and be done.

I hate how major corporations, broadcasting, and such are supposed to be in the business of doing parenting for everyone who doesn't feel like watching what their kids have in it. Of course, if this country didn't suppress sex so much, perhaps it wouldn't be this thing that people make a huge deal out of it.
posted by benjh at 9:53 AM on June 22, 2001


Fact is, children don't buy things, their parents do.

Nope. The parents give the kids the credit card and say, "Have a nice time at the mall, dear."
posted by kindall at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2001


omg. dong-resin is just too funny.

'say hello to my little aztec warrior!'
posted by jcterminal at 11:40 AM on June 22, 2001


wait...there were breats in that catalouge?! Dammit! Now I have to go buy my copy back...
posted by Hackworth at 11:52 AM on June 22, 2001


I felt their porn and it DOES feel kinda squishy...like mommy's booby...
Mommy, can I have one of these A & F soft porn thingies?

I feel your pain. No, really, I do.
posted by nofundy at 12:33 PM on June 22, 2001


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