February 4, 2015

Surprising Second-Time Love with Abercrombie & Fitch

2.4 jaime EDITED

The author, in her favorite super-soft Abercrombie & Fitch tee.

You know that whisper-soft, perfectly draped T-shirt — the one you reach for day after day because it’s just deliciously perfect? I do. I’ve gotten increasing inquiries about the soft, polished tees I’ve been rocking lately, and I’ve come to expect the same reaction every time I spill the secret of where I get them. “Abercrombie — best knits and basics I’ve ever found.” Cue the jaws dropping, the “haha but really….” giggle, or the flat-out disbelief.

It’s true: I’ve found brand love the second time around with a highly unlikely contender. To be clear, I’m not a fifteen-year-old girl. I’m not in the year 2001. I’m a grown woman in full possession of my mind (last I checked), and am actually a self-confessed comparison shopping addict. Sometimes, with brands as with life, you fall for the one you were sure you loathed.

If you’ve been following Abercrombie & Fitch’s journey in recent months, it’s undeniable that it’s gotten some unflattering press. Mike Jeffries’ quotes about the brand’s purposeful exclusivity did not go over well. Over the past year, the brand has gotten recognition for stocking more larger sizes, as well as increasing amounts of black clothes — something not allowed by brand standards previously. Like everyone else I know, I hadn’t been in an Abercrombie & Fitch store since about 2005.

But, (there is a but) as someone who works with brands and looks at websites, rebrands, and social media all day, I have to give credit where credit is due. I stumbled upon the addictively soft T-shirts (of which I own an embarrassing number) by accident, but I also have to give Abercrombie props for its online presence. The newer Abercrombie ad campaigns are more reminiscient of Free People than the Abercrombie of my own teen years. Its Twitter is, frankly, awesome. It’s clearly made a design shift, and while it might not capture the droves of teens’ fickle hearts again immediately, I know a small but expanding number of twenty- and thirty-somethings sporting their 2014 line. IF there’s a hopeful sign to be seen for them, I believe that’s it.

It’s brick-and-mortar-heavy approach may not be working anymore, but it’s finding an e-commerce renaissance. The fact that the online prices are vastly better than those in stores just may give them a whole new audience, and a chance to bounce back with a new aesthetic and voice. I for one, am pulling for them. I know my credit card agrees.