Has A&F stepped over the line this time?
May 19, 2002 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Has A&F stepped over the line this time? Calling it the "modern-day version of Underoos," a national clothing company is selling thong underwear in children's sizes - with the words "eye candy" and "wink wink" printed on the front.
posted by KevinSkomsvold (34 comments total)
Man, folks over at A&F must be believers in the "any publicity is good publicity, if they're hawking this stuff on the heels of the "Wong Brothers" fiasco. Perhaps it's to distract from how boring their clothes actually are.

As far as the underwear itself goes, for teenage girls it's probably OK as past age 14 they're usually wearing adult clothing anyway. But for the pre-teens, it's a little creepy. Any uncle who would buy these for a 9-year old neice should probably be scratched from the "potential babysitters" list.
posted by jonmc at 2:53 PM on May 19, 2002

wink wink
posted by quonsar at 2:56 PM on May 19, 2002

This just seems plain wrong on every level. As I read the article I tried to look at the other side (those people that would believe this is a good thing) and came up snake eyes. Clearly, A&F does not grasp the concept of how dangerous it is to eroticize children. A telling line from the article:

Although Abercrombie has seen consistent sales growth in the past several years, the company's earnings have flattened out. Its stock has suffered, too, and is down sharply from where it was a year ago.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 3:09 PM on May 19, 2002

The rearless underwear comes in sizes for girls ages 10 to 16. The smallest size - a medium - appears small enough to fit an even younger girl.

This paragraph really bugged me. 1. There is a rear to this underwear...just very small [nit pick]. 2. The words "appear" and "young girl" are so ambiguous and charged that it is either a troll or inflammatory, or both. I’m 23 years old, and I wear clothes that “appear fit a young man.” This sentence smacks of pandering to the whole pedophilia scare in the UK and US. My ex-girlfriend wore clothes that fit her younger sister [she is 14] mostly because they are about the same body type [the sister grew fast and my ex was small] and because their parents would buy the younger sister nice clothes, while my ex had no money. To get back to the point, I agree with jonmc in the fact this is a combination of publicity and a consistent trend toward sexier clothes for younger and younger girls. This is particularly disturbing because these girls, for the most part, haven’t matured to the point where they can take hold of their own sexual identity and self-image. I am really concerned with the message this sends younger girls who haven’t developed mentally as much as physically – partially because I see so many of my girl-friends have to deal with self-image, impossible beauty standards and consumer culture that breeds imperfection so that you can buy, buy, buy.

Nice eye candy
posted by plemeljr at 3:10 PM on May 19, 2002

peta does the same thing. you've just become a shill.
posted by raaka at 3:17 PM on May 19, 2002

i personally think any type of retailer should be able to do whatever it wants to.

if we as consumers don't like it, they'll go under.

a&f seems to be betting that this publicity will get more people into their stores instead of less. i guess we will see next year if it worked and a&f is still around(i'll be they are).

when i had enough money to shop all the time i actually liked some of their clothes(2-3 yrs ago), and i still wear them(i am wearing my hip a&f cargo shorts now - unfortunately there are no scantily clad women around me).
posted by PugAchev at 3:20 PM on May 19, 2002

in related news, bonnie is looking for adult underoos.
posted by quonsar at 3:39 PM on May 19, 2002

Now, quonsar, adult Underoos would actually be incredibly sexy on the ladies...and fun for us guys too...dibs on Batman.
posted by jonmc at 3:41 PM on May 19, 2002

Eye Candy? Wink Wink? <boggle>

Perhaps, in the sphere of the ten year old, phrases like "Eye Candy" and "Wink Wink" on skimpy underwear have no sexual meaning whatsoever. Maybe it's the adults blowing all of this way out of proportion based on the knowledge of sexuality we have. But it still just really bothers me....

So, are they gonna have these for 10 year old boys too? You know, maybe with a big Nike swoosh right across the crotch with Nike's "Play Hard" slogan superimposed?
posted by Swifty at 3:52 PM on May 19, 2002

Carney contended the thongs were designed for girls to enjoy, and no one else. He said he could list at least 100 reasons why a young girl would want thong underwear, the need to hide pantie lines being one of them.

If you can get younger girls to care about "100 reasons to wear thong underwear," you create a whole new batch of customers to buy the other clothes that give you a reason to wear a thong in the first place.

I still like A&F's clothes, though.
posted by tomorama at 3:55 PM on May 19, 2002

What is it with MeFi and the black/white perspective of A&F? Who really cares what the hell they do, really? Or, to put it in a more specific sense, who really cares this many times? What is this, the 3rd A&F thread in as many weeks?

Their clothes are bought by a certain demographic. Kudos to them. Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kenneth Cole, etc. etc. etc. do the same damn thing. Advertisers divide the market into niches, and sell accordingly. Color me shocked!

BTW, their clothes suck. If I wanted tattered clothing, plaid shirts, and oversized pants, I'd go back about 7 years when they were actually cool and I was still in high school.
posted by BlueTrain at 4:13 PM on May 19, 2002

100 reasons why a young girl would want thong underwear

1. Hide panty line from those icky boys
2. Be, like, ya know, edgy and cool.
3. Mimic role model, Divine Brown
4. Impress all the other cam girls
5. Look less like Baby Spice, more like Sporty
6. err....
posted by Neale at 4:14 PM on May 19, 2002

If I wanted tattered clothing, plaid shirts, and oversized pants, I'd go back about 7 years when they were actually cool


*looks at self in mirror*

posted by jonmc at 4:15 PM on May 19, 2002

jonmc, after reading this comment, I think that out-of-style clothing may be the least of your concerns. ;-)
posted by BlueTrain at 4:26 PM on May 19, 2002

What is it with MeFi and the black/white perspective of A&F?
If there is some gray area here, I'd like to hear it.

I too, could give a fuck less about A&F or any other clothing store. However the issue of it being OK or accepted on some level, I think, makes for some interesting discussion.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:29 PM on May 19, 2002

It smacks of desperation to me. A&F's crew had to know that people would get pissed off -- it seems like that's their only marketing strategy of late. They try for "edgy" advertising, when their products are rather pedestrian and certainly don't project an "edgy" look. But that's just a grumpy non-teen speaking.
posted by meep at 4:53 PM on May 19, 2002

Actually, they did this so the kids in their sweatshops would have something sexy to wear to work.
posted by Optamystic at 5:05 PM on May 19, 2002

I'm a grumpy teen and I don't buy their crap either. You're not alone, Meep.

This is sick, IMO. Nothing like tightening up the corporate resolve to breed a bunch of prosti-tots.
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:25 PM on May 19, 2002

Made me think, curiously enough, of an actual Onion headline from earlier in the year. It was one of those on the left that doesn't go with any existing article: "Your kids: Are they sexy enough?"
posted by raysmj at 5:31 PM on May 19, 2002

My nine-year-old daughter thought thongs were "cool", until she realized they were similar to a day-long wedgie.

She says she'll stick with regular panties. Smart girl.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:37 PM on May 19, 2002

I think A&F is just trying to nudge the media's attention toward the repressed conservatives, from whom disapproval is a badge of coolness, and away from the jaded hipsters, who find their clothes to be cookie-cutter schlock.
posted by Eamon at 5:40 PM on May 19, 2002

Together: [singing] Just don't look. Just don't look.
[people turn away; the monsters turn to look]
Just don't look. Just don't look.
posted by yerfatma at 5:52 PM on May 19, 2002

Nice to see that A&F realize they're in a losing battle for relevance in the retail field... if ever proof is needed, that new addition to their children's line is pretty much it.

A few years ago they had a store in Montreal, but I never shopped there as they seemed to be mostly an ever more pretentious and overpriced version of The Gap.
posted by clevershark at 6:06 PM on May 19, 2002

In my opinion, I think it's OK for 10-year-old girls to wear thongs. I mean, it's underwear. Girls usually wear pants over underwear, unless they're in private such as sleeping.

And thongs aren't really revealing something that we haven't seen. I have a keester, you have a keester, we all have keesters...
posted by Kevin Sanders at 6:07 PM on May 19, 2002

the occurance of a mental image of a 10 year old's keester is a criminal act. turn yourself in immediately, sanders.
posted by quonsar at 6:19 PM on May 19, 2002

Maybe I was having a mental image of me when I was 10 in a thong.

No, no, wait, I'll take that back. I didn't have a mental image of anything.
posted by Kevin Sanders at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2002

I am not currently a parent. When I am a parent, however, my kids aren't just going to run around in whatever clothes they choose - especially at a pre-teen age. Up until a certain age, parents sort of have a certain knowledge of what clothes and underwear their kids are wearing, no? Considering that parents are the ones paying for that clothing and taking the time to launder it. So, any reasonable parent wouldn't buy this stuff and would throw it away if they caught it in the laundry. What is the big deal if Abercrombie wants to waste their money on an item that won't sell?

Here's something though: The same age kids that these thongs are supposedly targeted to are listening to semi-porn pop music and idolizing sex symbols already. I go to the beach and see 12-year-old girls clustered together in their bikinis (not in a cutesy Coppertone girl way) looking for boys - and boys, often a bit older, checking them out. It's not like Abercrombie is breaking new ground with anything they've ever done.
posted by druzba at 8:39 PM on May 19, 2002

And at the same time we're in a tizzy about underwear, every damn newspaper in the nation has been raging on about how teenaged girls are giving blow-jobs and don't consider it to be any more sexual than a kiss.

In other words, head is good, but underwear is bad. Gotcha.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 PM on May 19, 2002

In other words, head is good, but underwear is bad. Gotcha.

five fresh fish, for the first time ever, we are in complete agreement...head for everyone, and damnit, take off your underwear!
posted by BlueTrain at 10:01 PM on May 19, 2002

I make it a policy to not care in the slightest bit what kind of underwear other people's children wear.
posted by Doug at 10:37 PM on May 19, 2002

Not that I would've ever shopped in an A&F, (too many strikes against them already) I've got to say that there is no way in hell I'd buy underwear for any of my (5) daughters with "Eye Candy" or "Wink Wink" on them, regardless of their age. And since they don't make the money in the household, they're not the ones who do the shopping, so they won't be buying this crap for themselves.

What I'm wondering is eactly who still shops at A&F, after the sleazy catalogs, after two Wongs, after Li Hong Zhang and now inappropriately sloganeered thongs for preteens. What is their target market, and is it really so insulated as to not think about the greater ramifications of this company's marketing choices?
posted by Dreama at 11:21 PM on May 19, 2002

Maybe mom can wear them, too, and share some of that hot playground action with her daughter.
posted by pracowity at 12:44 AM on May 20, 2002

I am just waiting for my son's first therapy bill, because we made him wear spongebob squarepants undies.
posted by bittennails at 6:01 AM on May 20, 2002

> I am just waiting for my son's first therapy bill

Give him a Brazilian wax and he'll feel all better.
posted by pracowity at 10:19 PM on May 20, 2002

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