Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Abercrombie Hell

I'd only ever heard of Abercrombie & Fitch, the ugly brand for pretty people, because of their unfortunate but unapologetic determination to discriminate against both employees and customers who do not fit into their standard of beauty.

I have lived a long and happy life without ever feeling the need to darken the doorstep of one of their shops. Unfortunately Lil' Sis decided she really wanted us to buy a A&F sweatshirt for dad: he had once borrowed one and looked good in it, it knocked a couple of decades off him and so on. 


There are no A&F shops in our home town. Lil' Sis has taken care of parental Xmas presents and much else besides since time immemorial. It was my turn to step up to the plate.
The London main store resembles a latter-day Aladdin cave, dark with spotlights shining on jewel-coloured piles of distressed apparel, and perfumed oxygen and very loud music aggressively pumped into the air.

Models/assistants of either gender (that’s what they call themselves), tall, lissom & Bambi-eyed bat their long eyelashes at you uncomprehendingly whatever your request then lead you through a guided tour of the premises, languidly pointing at shelves like sleepy children, hoping, you realise eventually, that you yourself will end up spotting what you were looking for.

At the slightest provocation they then offer to strip to their innermost layer to try on a garment for you, if you are buying something for the opposite gender, that is. Although it's entirely possible that if I'd been looking at a lady's sweatshirt a 16year old girl might have also approached and offered to show me what it looked like 'on her'. It doesn't bear thinking about, really.

In the course of the next 40 minutes I made the following discoveries:


1) I'm old - it's official.  


Not only did I find the music too loud, the bizarre sprayed perfume too strong; not only was I Madam-ed throughout by the model/assistant who served me. I also found I could flirt with him without blushing, like a grandma beyond reproach, without even a whiff of MILF-ery about it.  At one point I heard myself say that the elderly father I was buying  the sweatshirt for "is not as muscly as you". Random, random horrors.  

He, in turn, could hear this stuff without blushing - just a polite laugh and the gentle expression of someone who fully expects you to launch into a  description of your aches and pains next. Which, in a way, I was.

2) Shops aimed at the young, monied brain-dead only seem to stock L and XL for men and S and XS for women. It's the law. I suspect in all cases the range of sizes is the same: 0 to twig. But men are encouraged to think themselves as big, women as small. My un-trendy dad is an unfashionable 'Medium' and that turned Mission Unpleasant into Mission Impossible, but with a Greek chorus of  gorgeous kids wishing me happiness and an 'awesome day', rather than villains stroking cats.

3) Un-stitched, distressed designs and artificially faded fabrics are in. In fact you can buy little else.  But it still costs a packet. For more background analysis of my take on the style, I refer you back to point 1)

11 comments:

  1. Haha, and you were lucky if you didn't need to queue outside to get in. I am under 30 and I find that place extremely irritating, the music, the models-assistants, the darkness, it's like going shopping to a club with crazy rules!

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  2. This made me laugh a lot. I remember going to the flagship New York store years ago whilst on holiday. When I walked in and couldn't work out the point of a shop which was actually a shop/nightclub, I knew I'd gone over the hill.

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  3. It's happening and there's nothing we can do to stop it Sarah. Surely Death itself cannot be far away?

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  4. Think I'm too old to even try to get in....next stop Damart.

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  5. Apparently the loud music is there in order to keep the parents out of the door. They give the kids their credit card and wait outside. Lucky them! Next year: Gap.

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  6. The good news is their profits are cratering because the little brothers and sisters of the A&F generation behind them do not want to wear what their 'elders' did so their sales are collapsing. Give it a couple of years and they'll either close of must change their format from dark disco into some new annoying variation.

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  7. It's when you find yourself carrying items to the door so you can 'see what it looks like in daylight' that you know you are far too old. Great post.

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    1. Thank you Alice! Now off I shuffle for a soothing cup of cocoa and a wee lie down...

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  8. Did you take a polaroid with the most handsome model of the shop? If not, I'm sorry: you're old, really (I have had mine, obviously now pinned on the wall at work)

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    1. Damn! I knew I had forgotten something...

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  9. I stopped even considering entering one after I watched this video....http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/05/15/watch-abercrombie-fitch-for-the-homeless/

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