Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I'm not even going to get into the racism and sexism that A&F uses to market it's clothes. The following disjointed post is an imprint of my ongoing thinking on what is going on with our culture. Consider the following.

"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he says. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either." -Mike Jeffries "The man behind Abercrombie & Fitch"

This quote says allot. Here's what I get out of it.
1. Everyone wants to be a cool kid, ergo, everyone wants to be physically attractive, powerful and have lots of sex. Even if this is unconscious, I think it's probably true. However, does that mean that is what people should aspire to? Did Ghandi get laid every night? Was Jesus worried about being hip?

2. They are exclusive. Lie. They market themselves as exclusive, so that they are desirable. Does that mean that only cool kids buy A&F, or Hollister, or whatever?

3. If you try and be everything for everyone, you will become vanilla. This is also true. You can't be everything and still be vital, right? This is certainly true for art, literature, etc etc. But is it true for religion? The core of most religions teaching is just the opposite, inclusion, understanding. How can this be bridged? How can these both be so?

That's all I have for now. comments welcome. :-)


Bekah said...

I think it's interesting that he attempts to veil the fact that they're discriminating against anyone who a) doesn't have lots of money and b) isn't "attractive" by claiming that the "cool" kids are both "all-American" and have "a great attitude." There are lots of all-American kids who have great attitudes and would not, according to this freak, belong in his clothes.

Ironically, is that him in that picture? Because...ew.

He also makes it sounds like he's exciting people who already have a great attitude and personality by being exlusionary. In essence, he seems to be saying that they are providing a place for these kids to mature, grow, and become even better people than they already are. None of which really makes sense...mostly because they're clothes, and he's advertising in such a way as to say, "These kids are cool because they look good. If you look good, you wear our clothes. And if you wear our clothes that means you are cool, look good, and therefore are a great person with an honorable personality." Total bs.

I agree with point 1 you make, but with my above comments added.

2 Anyone with enough money can buy their clothes. You are right. They're really not exclusive to "cool" kids (although I think their sizes do run small...).

3)I don't think becoming "vanilla" applies at all. he's not trying to be creative and new and therefore he "has" to leave some out. He's trying to make money. He shows this is his real concern when he says that the companies which are in "trouble" (financially, duh) are those who are trying to advertise to everyone.

But I think art that is truly great and music and even religion etc. are the ones which CAN appeal to everyone. Maybe not the same way. Maybe for different reasons, but unless you include everyone some can you really consider yourself that successful?

Jonathan said...

haha, yes, that is him, the link after his quote goes to an interview with him which is quite interesting. But yeah, I had the same reaction when I saw his picture, apparently so did the writer of the article.

In that small quote there is a lot of assumptions about what makes a person "cool" or "good", much of which is linked to how much money your parents make, your parents in specific because these are not aimed at adults who would be working to buy his expensive clothes.

I think you are on to something when it comes to the whole art that appeals to a broad range of people, however, often times it takes a while for a broad range of people to accept a challenging piece of art.

In the end though, I think that he is just using that as a cover for the fact that he likes feeling like one of the "cool" kids. He seems to be stuck in a high school mentality where one is judged on what clothes you wear and how you look doing nothing. What's funny about this is that he is trying to hold onto it and in so doing has made himself into a freak, someone who doesn't even look comfortable in their own skin.

Which strikes me as ironic, here you have a guy, who looks like freak, trying to act like he's 17. If anyone from his target market saw him they would label him a poser and wouldn't buy anything that he was buying and yet, they are buying it in droves, and he thinks he is cool, like the kids he's selling it to.

D Four said...

Firstly yes, I agree, He looks like a total dork....and old.

Secondly, is he wearing his own clothes? That's like if Jack White rolled around Detroit in his Benz, listening to his own CDs. I guess that picture is for a photo shoot, but still.

Ok, now that I'm done taking pot shots at this guy. Let's get serious :).

I totally feel what you're saying Bekah about how he's exciting people that already have a great attitude and personality. It's like making it legal for all the best baseball players to take steroids, but no one else because they aren't great in the first place, so it's not their "thing" to be any better.

I think you make a great point with #2 Jona. For sure!

On a somewhat separate note though, I think I might have to agree, at least to a certain point, with Mr. Jeffries on the "vanilla" point. Yeah, of course some, if not pretty much all of the "best" art is loved by a broad audience. But there is so much art that goes undiscovered by mainstream society. I can even take a medium like dance. There is no doubt that brilliant art is coming out of the dance world right now, but is it really catching the eyes of everyone? Or even if one goes to movies. All movies are targeted at a certain audience. Does that mean that if a movie which does incredibly well, mainly just with its target audience, is not "great?" It fulfilled its purpose and didn't have to pull any punches to please everyone. While what is seen as the best often doesn't pull any punches, so as to please more people, it often can happen. I think A&F guy is off in thinking that anything that pleases anyone is going to be vanilla, but I think I can see where he's coming from. I don't think the "best" art always appeals to everyone.

Bekah said...

a) A&F clothes are not art. They are a medium for monetary profit and that is all (well, and apparently making this freak feel young and popular).
b) If art doesn't appeal to everyone merely because it wasn't intended to, then it's not good art; it's elitist and counterproductive.
c) Great art does appeal to everyone, even if it requires time because it is challenging and new, as Jonathan said.
d) Being mainstream and still having appeal to those who may discover something are not the same thing. Just because a lot of art goes undiscovered does not mean that it would not appeal to everyone if it were discovered. Great movies, paintings, dances etc. are ones which target everyone because they resonate with a certain level of common humanity. If art cannot resonate with everyone in some way because of that, then it is not great. It may be good, but that's all.