FC Now reader Dave Orsborn emailed last night to ask our opinion about Abercrombie & Fitch and its decision to fold its controversial catalog. He wrote:
It seems as though A&F did a great job of reaching their target audience — every other teen I see has something with the A&F logo on it and they had amazing press coverage in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Did A&F do the right thing by caving to the pressure and folding the catalog? Should they have stuck it out?
Did A & F cave to the pressure of family value groups? Well, that pressure has never been greater or more organized. But in addition to main street uproars are the Wall Street downgrades by every major brokerage house. It seems, as one writer put it, the dirty little secret behind the racy catalog is lousy sales.
The naked truth behind the company is that sales have been declining for the past four years. Teens may want the logo-laced clothing, but as A & F continued to gamble and push the envelop with items like “Kiddy Thongs” awareness among parents who foot the bill and actions by organized groups such as the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families increased. The result: a case where sex does not sell.
A & F certainly created a big bang but was it in the right universe — as we say in Bang! While the catalog gets a ton of media exposure, the reality is the clothes aren’t cutting edge cool anymore as notoriously fickle teens move on to what’s next. To avoid getting stripped of its assets, the company is wise to regroup and remodel (this time with clothes) its retailing strategy. A&F should have spent more time “assuming the worst” and getting a plan B together rather than putting out a soft porn magazine.