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   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 Emerson Christmas.’
   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 quarterly.
   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.’

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A selection of A&F Quarterly covers, giving an idea of the theme with Bruce Weber’s 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.

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