It’s the end of an era, folks: Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister announced today that they’ll be retiring what’s essentially the most blatant agenda-pushing in the history of retail: The chiseled, oiled, shirtless model-sales associate hybrid.
The brands broke the news via press release, stating both are “continuing to evolve and have overhauled some of their store policies.” A bit farther down, the release outlines a couple of changes shoppers can expect, including the fact that store associates will no longer be hired based on body type or physical attractiveness, that titles will change from “Model” to “Brand Representative,” and both brands will do away with shirtless men working as glorified doormen to get shoppers into stores.
The changes, obviously, are across the board: By the end of July, “sexualized marketing used in marketing materials including, in-store photos, gift cards, and shopping bags will be retired.”
Below, a typical Abercrombie ad; and under that a photo the brand provided of the “new” Abercrombie model.
It should be noted that Abercrombie & Fitch—which basically ruled the lives of teenagers and college kids in the late ’90s and early 2000s thanks to its preppy-casual clothes, sexy tan models, and an emphasis on conformity and easy luxury—has been on a downward spiral for years.
This can be attributed to lots of factors—the too-high prices, the rise of fast fashion, and the fact that the “AF” logo is no longer a sign of privilege. Plus, the wood-paneled, loud, cologne-filled stores aren’t relevant to today’s teens, and just feel nostalgic to young adults who wore the clothes back in the day but have accepted it’s part of the past—not unlike watching an N’Sync video from 1999 on YouTube.
The changes come four months after the retirement of controversial CEO Mike Jeffries, who oversaw 11 straight quarters of decline in same-store sales before his December departure, so it’ll be interesting to see how—and if—the “new” Abercrombie will play out.