Local television stations, as well as the national and
cable news networks, picked up the story and ran into the ground. All
they did was manage to heighten the awareness within the market-place
about the company and the catalogue. For days on end, these broadcasts
showed some of the cleaner images from the catalogue as its
critics called on the heavens to rain down fire and brimstone on the heads
of the company’s corporate officers.
Everyone wins in the long run. The ‘Parents for Decency
in America’ got their fifteen minutes of fame and tons of people to donate
money to their organization. Abercrombie & Fitch made even more money
and the stock climbed through the roof.
Unfortunately, these controversies are like visits from
a certain social disease that keeps on giving. They come when you least
expect. The next flare-up came during Christmas 2000. Another concerned
group of citizens had some free time amidst all that gift buying, Christmas
tree-shopping and eggnog-chugging to protest the Christmas issue, ‘A Very
However, this time around, the opposition was more organized.
Rather than be distracted by the fight, the powers-that-be (at A&F)
conceded the round and issued a new policy: you have to be 19 years old
and have a valid photo ID to purchase a copy of
The latest flare-up concerns the summer 2001 issue.
It’s definitely been a slow news cycle because this time around, outside
of the esteemed Mr Buckley Jr., it died a quick death. But then Jerry
Della Femina, in an opinion piece (about HBO’s
Sex and the City) for the New York Daily News, put all in
context: ‘What shocks my system is how comfortable my kids are with the
incredible array of sex that is available to them in movies, music, and
their television set. I am not uncomfortable that my kids know so much
[more] about sex than I did at 15. What bothers me is that at this rate
they’ll soon know [even] more about sex than I know now.’
of A&F Quarterly covers, giving an idea of the theme with Bruce
Webers emotive photography gracing them. Controversy erupted with
A Very Emerson Christmas (Christmas 2000, top left) and led
A&F to issue a policy where buyers had to be over 19 with valid photo
ID. Top right: Back to School 2000. Centre row, left: Back
to School 2001. Centre row, right: Summer 2000. Above left:
Spring 2001. Above right: Summer 1999.