At Abercrombie & Fitch, Sex No Longer Sells

Fewer young shoppers are drawn by the retailer’s risqué marketing
The retailer’s signature models may soon be looking for work elsewhere Photo illustration by 731

Abercrombie & Fitch’s skin-filled ads and nightclub vibe once delighted American teenagers and infuriated parents. Today, many aren’t even paying attention. The once-edgy retailer has lost a third of its market value in the past year as it grapples with falling sales in Europe and the U.S. While Abercrombie blames the economy for its woes, brand consultants say it also has failed to change with the times. Today’s teens are underwhelmed by the half-naked models and blaring, dimly lit stores. They’re also less inclined to wear Abercrombie’s longtime uniform of pricey denim and graphic T-shirts. “The trick for fashion brands is how to keep the core edgy and hot,” says Allen Adamson, a managing director at brand consulting firm Landor Associates.

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