Abercrombie & Fitch is Zeitgeist
If you want to feel the pulse of NOW, go to the Abercrombie & Fitch store on New York’s 5th Avenue. I went there a couple of times last week and discovered that this place really embodies our Zeitgeist.
The first time I entered the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store, I was pretty irritated. It’s dark in there.
There are only a few spotlights on the clothes they sell – but these spots really aren’t sufficient to judge what color the t-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans are.
You basically have to guess the exact shade or color. Or you have to drag the piece you want to another corner of the store in the faint hope that the lights will be just a little stronger there… (they’re not)
Mom will never believe these clothes are new
Ah, but what great things Abercrombie & Fitch has: jeans that are destroy-washed, t-shirts with stitched-on lettering that is artfully torn to make them look like they’ve been through a thousand washes and sweatshirts that look like a family of moths had a feast in them, so full of holes are they.
Another thing that sets A&F stores apart from places like the GAP or Banana Republic is the music in the stores: it’s loud, it’s constantly upbeat, and it’s always the same!
On my frequent visits to A&F stores in New York last week, I kept hearing the same songs again and again. Which would really get on my nerves if I worked there…
All in all, the music and the scarce lighting make A&F stores feel more like a club than a clothing store.
And don’t forget the scent: that’s something else that is unique to A&F. Go near an A&F store and you’ll be able to smell the place before you see it. The whole shop smells of the A&F fragrance, which they spray liberally over the clothes. I guess they also use it as an air freshener and make the staff put it on.
Models pose as salespeople
And that brings me to the next point that’s so NOW about A&F: the personnel. I don’t want to call them salespeople, because that wouldn’t seem quite right. First and foremost, they are beautiful people.
One day, for instance, all the store personnel were decked out in the same gray sweatshirt (needless to say that they all looked awesome in them). When I went back to the store the next day, I noticed that the place was completely sold out of those gray sweatshirts. I guess the modelling did the trick.
Watching how they do it
Out of curiosity, I then just sat in a chair in the store’s waiting area and watched the store personnel. (The waiting area consists of a couple of lounge chairs, where stressed-out husbands, wives, mothers or friends wait while their loved ones are still lost in the dark maze of the store trying to find just the right outfit).
I sat there for a while and observed what the store personnel were doing. Or not doing. Most of them just stood in pre-assigned places, smiled at the customers and said their hellos and good-byes. And, of course, they looked amazingly beautiful.
One of the salespeople was approached by a few customers and answered some questions, another one folded a couple of t-shirts. But apart from that, they were just a decorative element of the store. What a job…
Smooth to the touch
But the most “zeitgeist” thing about A&F must be that they have a bare-chested guy wearing a pair of A&F jeans standing in the store’s entryway to welcome customers. Pure sex. A&F even supplies a photographer to take your picture with that half-naked hunk. And you get to keep the polaroid to take home.
The polaroid. Not the model.