Friday, 24 August 2007

The legend of Abercrombie and Fitch

David Abercrombie started selling and designing tents, rucksacks and other camping equipment in 1892. He prided himself on using good quality materials and producing the best equipment available. Ezra Fitch was a loyal and regular customer who was so enamoured with the business that he bought into it in 1900 and made it a partnership, the now legendary Abercrombie and Fitch.

Both these hot tempered men had different views on the direction of the company, with Fitch being the visionary of the two. By 1913 in their new location just off Fifth Avenue, A&F had moved their business towards selling sporting clothing and had become the only store to sell sports clothing to women.
In 1917 they’d moved again, to occupy an entire 12 floor building and were selling hot air balloons, chainmail and treadmills for dogs amongst all sorts of other bits and pieces.

Fast forward to modern times and the cult of Abercrombie & Fitch as a brand popular with “the gays” can probably be tracked back to using Bruce Weber to create their imagery for their now infamous quarterly magazine and “catalogue”.
This catalogue pushed the boundaries with it’s playfully sexy images and very hot young men wrestling in the water and the dirt, playing football and generally clamboring all over each other while nearly or not quite wearing the company’s clothing. When it got to the stage that there were more fine figured young men and women naked than clothed the puritans cried out in dismay and sadly the naked catalogue days are over.

The company still finds ways to tempt us boys-who-like-boys with model “greeters” at store entrances and beautifully shot videos and photos still helping tempt us to use our credit cards online.

Why is the label so popular with we boys? Because they aren’t just selling us cool, well-made clothing, they are selling us a lifestyle where it’s ok for you and your mates to stand around naked on top of a car, to use your buddy’s spectacularly defined pec as a very comfy pillow. A world where no one looks at you funny if you pull your mate’s pants down while you are wrestling in the water before you all strip off and fall asleep tangled up. Now THAT sounds like an ideal world.