It’s time to say goodbye to the chiseled abs covering shopping bags and the dimly lit, heavily-scented stores that mark the transition from child to teenager. That’s right—Abercrombie & Fitch is changing its notorious brand image. In a statement released last week, brand president Christos Angelides announced his plan to desexualize both the Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister brands.
Starting at the end of July, shoppers can expect various changes to the store’s environment. Most notably, sexualized marketing is finally off the table. Whenever A&F opens a new store, they will celebrate with fully clothed models. Shirtless models won’t be seen at any more A&F events, nor will they be found on gift cards and shopping bags. The only image of a sculpted torso promoted by the company will remain on their signature Fierce perfume, in order to stay consistent with the perfume market.
But a lack of shirtless men won’t be the only change in the store’s appearance. Angelides promises to create a more welcoming environment to shoppers by increasing lighting in stores, decreasing the scent, and arranging the trees found in stores in a way that will provide a more positive shopping experience.
As for the employees themselves, there are new policies that will be implemented to make the staff environment feel much more inclusive. The new policy states that store associates will not be hired based on body type or physical attract. This hiring statement is a step in the right direction for A&F’s inclusivity goal, especially after refusing to hire a Muslim woman landed them in the Supreme Court. Perhaps in an attempt to undo the damage caused by this case, the “Look Policy Guidelines” will be relaxed, so employees will have more say over what they wear on the job. Of course, male employees will now be expected to wear shirts. Even further, their job titles will officially change from “model” to “brand representative”—a title much more professional and much less degrading.
After former CEO Mike Jeffries retired last December, the company has finally had the opportunity to give Abercrombie & Fitch and sister company, Hollister, a new brand image that will hopefully help sales. In the past holiday quarter, sales have been down by 14 percent, and customers have continued to air their concerns about the sexualized message that the brand is sending—or selling, rather. But come July, all of this will be changing. Angelides hopes that replacing countless images of torsos with rock-hard abs with diverse photos of clothed teenagers and creating more welcoming store environments will give the company the boost it needs to get back to where it used to be.