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   I didn’t realize how influential the A&F Quarterly has become until I was packing up my former apartment several months ago. Confronted with shelf upon shelf of old magazines and books (and the need to do some much-needed spring-cleaning), I set about the business of winnowing it all down to a manageable mess. In the end, I kept all the back issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York, New Yorker, Out, Genre, Instinct, and A&F Quarterlys. (I also kept the special collector’s October 2000 issue of Gourmet with Rocco DeSpirito on the cover—for obvious reasons.) Further polling of members of various demographic groups soon revealed that I am not alone in my fascination with the quarterly, or the products within.
   Lisa Marsh, the fashion business writer for the New York Post, equates it to more along the lines of ‘bisexual soft porn than a retail catalogue.’ While the clothing might not look so different from the Gap or J. Crew, she felt that the ‘aggressive lifestyle marketing [by the company] makes you feel like you’re buying a polo shirt and getting the horse and summer house on Martha’s Vineyard with it.’
   The conservative newspaper columnist, William F. Buckley Jr, wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Post that ‘A&F is engaged in yet further expansion of advertising along the lines pioneered by Calvin Klein, which is torso-oriented …, aimed more at the pulchritude of the male than the female form.’ But ultimately, there within lies the success of A&F.

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Above: From the Back to School 2001 issue. It was almost the lead picture for this story because it illustrates the controversy—but not without titillation. Below: Back to School 2000 and spring 2001 illustrate what William F. Buckley Jr said in the New York Post as ‘torso-oriented’, aimed at the ‘pulchritude of the male … form.’

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