Monday, January 29, 2007

Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie and Fitch is about to make the biggest mistake in its 115 year life. In a couple of months it will open its first ever European store, just off London's Savile Row in Burlington Gardens.

The company began life in 1892 as a sporting goods company that kitted out various American presidents and pioneers (Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart) with 'outdoor goods' on sporting trips. It is even rumoured that the gun Ernest Hemingway used to kill himself came from an A&F store.

Although today the clothes themselves are no more exciting than something you would get from Banana Republic or the Gap, what the label has that other smart-casual brands lack is heritage, history and pedigree.

For years, European A&F fans have clamoured for their own store. Until now they either had to fly to the US or Canada to stock up in Abercrombie shops or buy online and incur huge customs and postage fees. There was no other way to get the 'real deal' as A&F calls its merchandise; the company has no franchises and does not wholesale.

That exclusivity, in a time of globalisation, was canny. It resulted in huge brand interest and loyalty: wearing an A&F jumper or baseball cap showed you had travelled to America and been to an actual store - or were long-haul cabin crew. You were wearing something not everybody had.

Not for much longer. And if coming over the pond and making its range overly available is not enough to kill off any kudos the label may have, Mrs Beckham is on hand to help: she was recently spotted buying up half the LA store.

Source: The First Post

I'm not sure one store on Savile Row counts as 'overly available' but I can see the point being made. Soon the rest of the gay men in London will be wearing it ... and for the record, Abercrombie & Fitch's styling is generally better and more distinctive than The Gap, but their hard to get exclusivity has always held a lot of cachet.

Originally posted on Great Blue World

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