Abercrombie & Fitch: the Altering of Cultural Norms

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Abercrombie & Fitch: The Altering of Cultural Norms

A Senior Project Presented to The Faculty of the Communication Studies Department California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Bachelor of Arts By Emily Nichole Pahler

Dr. Bernard Duffy Senior Project Advisor

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T. C. Winebrenner Department Chair

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©2009 Emily Nichole Pahler

TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction……………………………………………………………………………........1 Justification……………………………………………………………………………........1 Critical Method Described………………………………………………………………….4 Object of Criticism…………………………………………………………………..…….13 Interpretation of A&F………………………………………………………………..…….16 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………21 Works Cited…………………………………………………………………………..........23 Appendices………………………………………………………………………………...26

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INTRODUCTION Abercrombie and Fitch is a store that targets a specific audience to make their customers feel young and beautiful. The young adult population is lured into stores like Abercrombie and Fitch because of the store’s sex appeal. Young and beautiful adults are ready at the door ready to greet customers (see figure 1). In order to understand the impact of Abercrombie and Fitch on the young adult population, semiotics, the media, research studies and autoethnography will be utilized. Nonverbal and verbal communication is also analyzed throughout this paper through visual aids and marketing tag lines. The persuasive advertising and marketing techniques used by Abercrombie and Fitch suggest the degree to which sexually explicit visual stimuli alter cultural norms. JUSTIFICATION Abercrombie and Fitch was established by David T. Abercrombie in 1892 as highend outfitter of sporting and excursion goods. The store began going downhill in 1960 and was bought by Michael S. Jeffries in 1988. Since 1988, Abercrombie and Fitch has created a body culture that implies and promotes sexual and erotic lifestyles. It is a store capable of keeping up with the highly demanding fashion culture. However, Abercrombie and Fitch’s implied lifestyle has its repercussions. The store can be seen as too provocative and even offensive. According to Forbes Magazine, Abercrombie and Fitch “generated controversy with its sexually suggestive catalogs, faced a protest from parent and Christian groups for marketing children's thong underwear with the words kiss me and wink wink” (Reuters). CBS News reported in 2003 that, “Youth wear retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a suit with California labor regulators over allegations it forced

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its employees to buy and wear its clothes while on the job” (The Associated Press). The Abercrombie and Fitch culture is depicted through the seductive and luring advertisements of models wearing their clothing or even posing nude. Because young adults are significantly more impressionable than older adults, Abercrombie and Fitch targets the young adults with their sexual advertisements. What distinguishes the clothing from Abercrombie and Fitch from other retail stores? Why is the young adult population drawn to the clothing store? And how is the retail store able to keep up with the highly demanding fashion culture? Young adults are attracted to Abercrombie and Fitch because of their provocative clothing, nude model posters, and the overwhelming desire to feel attractive and beautiful (see figure 2). Abercrombie and Fitch campaign marketers imply that in order to be beautiful and desirable a shopper must wear Abercrombie and Fitch clothing. The young adult population is lured into stores like Abercrombie and Fitch due to the store’s marketing strategies. They send their messages through young models with rock hard abs and perfect hourglass body. When young adults purchase the clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch they feel attractive and sexy. Customers walking into Abercrombie and Fitch will find themselves...
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