Abercrombie & Fitch:the beautiful people brand.

Abercrombie & Fitch is an American clothing brand that was funded in 1892 by David Thomas Abercrombie and Ezra Hasbrouck Fitch. At that time the company was selling hiking, hunting and fishing articles. Nowadays, Abercrombie & Fitch’s image is a top of the range brand and also includes the two brands Hollister Co and Gilly Hicks. The American brand is spread out worldwide in about 20 countries and is available only in a few places (mostly capital cities) in order to keep their “prestigious” image.

Sans titre

Abercrombie & Fitch built its image on a clothing company that is targeting “beautiful people”. The company only hires the “models”, meaning the in-store sellers, based on their physical appearances. The brand’s campaigns have also been known for over the years showing nearly nude models in suggestive poses. By using models within its stores and campaigns, Abercrombie wants to set an image of a brand that is only targeting beautiful young people and wants those customers to wear it. If only adequate customers wear it, then the brand’s image is well represented.


Using this kind of brand building, the company has often been criticized for discriminating its employees but also its customers. The vendors are not hired according to their ability but to their appearances. Concerning the customers, how could they discriminate them? The American brand is offering selective sizes: the XL and XXL are not available in the woman section of the store.

Abercrombie’s strategy is discussed but yet is working for the company. the image might not be pleasant to everyone, however it is appealing the clients they want to have as it is flattering for them and they feel part of something special.



“Abercrombie & Fitch, La Marque des gens beaux, minces et riches”, Bérangère McNeese, L’OBS, May 14th 2013 http://rue89.nouvelobs.com/2013/05/14/abercrombie-fitch-marque-gens-beaux-minces-riches-242324

Journal of Marketing Management. Feb2009, Vol. 25 Issue 1/2, p143-169. 27p. 1 Diagram, 1 Chart.

Business & Society Review (00453609). Winter2006, Vol. 111 Issue 4, p387-408. 22p.

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8 Responses to Abercrombie & Fitch:the beautiful people brand.

  1. magdalenasipari says:

    I keep wondering how they have maintained a successful position in a time where “natural beauty” and “real body image” have become topics of great challenges and revolutions in the beauty industry. Every brand needs to have their own image, strategy, target audience and values, and Abercrombie & Fitch have chosen theirs. However, is it acceptable to market with people that only a fraction can relate to, and leave out the ones who don’t meet the measure of their brand image? You have a good point there, they still have clients, because they feel like they can be part of something special and only some people are allowed to. But I wonder, how long can they go on with this strategy.

  2. luciledw says:

    I don’t understand why they don’t change there strategy and how they can still be as successful in their market. Nowadays the beauty standarts had evolves and we can see it more and more everywhere. While Zara is launching a unisex collection, Abercrombie is still blocked with it “old” beauty standarts. I don’t know if in the next couple of years,they will be as successful compared to the competition, who’s adapting thier products to the new sizes.

  3. saralm95 says:

    As you said and in the comments above, is clear that their strategy is old-fashioned and very criticised.
    But nowadays the world has reached another point:
    there are people who say that the models that appear in their stores or campaigns look “half dead” or “they are not the real beauty” “Real women have curves”.
    I think these comments are extreme, because if people don’t like the discrimination of obese people, why is no one saying the same about skinny people?

    Anyway, I don’t like neither the way Abercrombie&Fitch works.

  4. I know a person who worked for Abercrombie & Fitch and he quitted his job after a few month, because of the horrible expectations they have from their employees.

    I actually always liked the atmosphere in the stores…it was always a “holiday feeling” but since I know how they are treating their employees, I am not going in these stores anymore.
    I think it haven’t been effecting them that much jet, because still a lot of people don’t know what is going on or just don’t care about the employees.

  5. Benjamin.CLOEREC says:

    I’m personally offenced that the CEO of Abercombie and Fitch has a very restreint vision of his customers. He only provide clothes to “beautiful people” as he says. I found some ridiculous quotes from Mike Jeffries, the current CEO of A&F. He says : “I don’t want our core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing” or “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids” . This quotes are really provocative and offensive. The sizes of their clothes only fits to few people. For these reasons I don’t buy their products and which I think they are also overestimated in terms of prices.

    • Anni E. says:

      Based on your comment the CEO does sound like a jerk – but that’s probably indeed the point, being very selective and exclusive to the point of being off-putting to most of the people they don’t want to target, while attracting the (few?) people who don’t get offended and do have a similar point of view. I guess there still is a niche for this type of a brand, even though I personally don’t value or relate to such a concept at all. Selectiveness and targeting are essential parts of branding, even though in this case it doesn’t come off as a positive thing for most of the people.

  6. Maëlle Guyot says:

    The CEO has been attacked not long time ago because of his brand vision mainly explaining that only ‘beautiful people’ and ‘skinny ones’ can wear the brand. This is discrimination and I belive that if he wants to keep his brand working he should work the sizes out and maybe start hiring not only models but competent people who can not just stand for the brand but also be able to seel it. I am a big fan of Hollister and Abercrombie and I will probably continue buying their products but if the CEO doesn’t adjust his behavior then he will lose more than just a few clients.

  7. To highlight one positive, I would have to admit that they did extremely well in stating a clear brand position within the market. However it is clear that over time trends changed dramatically and A&F stayed with their original idea, which lead to their failure within the market. Sales dropped dramatically last year and A&F are slowly but surely changing their branding as a result.

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