Abercrombie and Fitch and the Moral Degradation of America
This past month I made my last visit to the popular teenage/college student retail store Abercrombie and Fitch. Finishing up some back to school shopping, I was on a quest for jeans, and I knew the place to get them. My last two favorite pairs were from Abercrombie and Fitch, and I was planning on buying the same kind once again. Happy and relieved that I would not spend the afternoon ransacking the mall for one pair of jeans, I entered the store to the pulsating beat of techno dance music. In front of me was the teenage Mecca of what is truly hip -- the first thing I noticed were the life-size pictured that covered the walls -- half-clad muscular and glistening young men, frolicking around with pouty faced but beautiful young women who were wearing either size 2 short shorts with bikini tops or 3 layered sweaters. The tables were covered with overpriced shorts, shirts, and sweaters, strewn about by desperate customers searching for the perfect outfit. The sales people who roamed the floors were definitions of cool themselves -- ranging from age 16-22, they modeled their employee discounts in a haughty way which encouraged the customers to strive for their ultra-hip look. And strive the customers did. What was the most noticeable upon entering the store (besides the blaringly loud music which made me wonder if I was at a clothing store or a dance club) were the herds of desperate young men and women, who seemed to range from age 12-25, strutting around the store and searching for anything that had the name A&F on it. I can only imaging how many nights of baby-sitting it would take some of these eager teenagers to buy one sweater. The young customers were swarming from table to table, yelling at their friends over the music, picking up a piece of clothing here and there to check a price, and standing in line for ten minutes to get a dressing room.
Overwhelmed by the stimuli, I set out to find the jeans I wanted as quickly as possible. Searching through pile and rack, I found "Wide leg tomboy", "Tomboy flare", and "Bootcut tomboy", but none of the plain "Tomboy" I has previously owned. Disappointed and a little disgusted, I left the store empty handed. It was not so much that I had failed to find my jeans that upset me, but rather the realization that this store had somehow reached a point where it was controlling the minds of my fellow young shoppers. The store I had just left seemed to be advertising more than "Tomboy flares" and wool V-neck sweaters -- the music, the pictures on the wall, the salespeople -- they all set the level of what is cool just a little bit higher, while the customers mindlessly followed.
Then next week I was reading the Star Tribune newspaper when I came across and editorial written about Abercrombie and Fitch. The author was disgusted with the store because of its blatant promotion of college-age drinking. The...