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Abercrombie & Fitch's Identity Crisis: From Clueless Preppy to Sullen Teen

"That's wasn't too painful," an executive said at the end of today's earnings call
relates to Abercrombie & Fitch's Identity Crisis: From Clueless Preppy to Sullen Teen
Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Abercrombie & Fitch used to have an identity: cool, preppy, sexy. It used to have a chief executive who enforced that identity down to the size of the cuff on the jeans: Mike Jeffries. The retailer's image hasn't enthralled teens or young adults for years, and Jeffries left the company in December. Abercrombie now seems lost and a little depressed. What does it want to be when it grows up?

The executives tasked with reporting financial results on Wednesday morning, March 4, tried to put a bold face on Abercrombie's current predicament. Arthur Martinez, the chairman of the board, said the retailer's leadership is confident and optimistic. But it wasn't truly convincing. The conference call ended with the chief operating officer, Jonathan Ramsden, making what he thought was a private remark: "That's wasn't too painful."