The fall of Abercrombie & Fitch
Powerless to renew itself, the Abercrombie & Fitch brand is closing several stores in Europe. Flashback. Curtain down at 23, avenue de Champs-Élysées, in Paris. In the 10,000 square meter mansion that the brand occupies, electronic music sounds like a funeral march. The salespeople fold the T-shirts, others help the few customers who have come to offer themselves the last Christmas present. The chain with the big logo will close on January 2, followed by others in Brussels and Madrid. If the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated its fall, the difficulties of the iconic label of the 2000s, half-preppy, half-BCBG, are not new.
Created in 1892 by David Abercrombie, the brand specializing in hunting and fishing clothing had become, in the mid-twentieth century, a fashion phenomenon, with its pieces worn by John Kennedy, Eisenhower, Greta Garbo, or the writer Ernest Hemingway. His Ivy League-inspired wardrobe, evoking the outdoors and leisure, conveyed a relaxed chic in which a part of America found itself. But in 1992, the brand was on the verge of bankruptcy. She calls Mike Jeffries to the rescue. This obsessed with beauty, who multiplies cosmetic surgery operations and devotes himself to bodybuilding, is recovering sales. For him, Abercrombie & Fitch must rhyme with “young, rich and beautiful”. It immerses the points of sale in subdued light, saturating the atmosphere with perfume.
Never had we seen shops resembling nightclubs. Salespeople, on the other hand, have to welcome customers shirtless or with their buttocks molded into jeans. When, on May 19, 2011, the American landed with great fanfare on the Champs-Élysées Avenue, everyone flocked to this temple of US trendiness. But the cool spirit is a pure facade. The brand multiplies the provocations by hiring “beautiful young people to attract other young beautiful and cool”. Caught up in discrimination lawsuits, the model is criticized and the image tarnished. At the same time, its collections are no longer surprising. Too expensive and boring. Customers have a lot more fun with their competitor tarnished image. At the same time, its collections are no longer surprising. Too expensive and boring. Customers have a lot more fun with their competitor tarnished image. At the same time, its collections are no longer surprising. Too expensive and boring. Customers have a lot more fun with their competitorUrban Outfitters. “It’s sad,” one of the few saleswomen still in the post told us one afternoon in December. We are nearly a hundred employees in Paris affected by the redundancy. “Cruel coincidence, on the sidewalk opposite, Gap has already closed. Would the American dream have lead in the wing?