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FIRST-PERSON: Abercrombie & Fitch catalog reflects sex-saturated culture

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Parents, do you know what clothing catalogs your teens are reading? If they include Abercrombie & Fitch, you will be in for a shocking revelation when you find it.

“Pictures hotter than a backyard barbeque!” That’s how trendy clothier Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) describes its summer 2001 catalog with the theme, “The Pleasure Principle.”

The 280-page quarterly, sold for $6 at A&F stores, is closer to a pornographic publication than a merchandise catalog. The Washington Times reported on June 22 that the book includes “120 photos of naked and near-naked coeds in sexually provocative poses.” Even more graphic descriptions are reported in the news story, but quoting them would be inappropriate for family reading.

The company maintains that college students are their target market, and the catalog is a work of art. Spokesman Hampton Carney says, “We liken it to Norman Rockwell. It’s so beautifully and tastefully done. It’s fun, beautiful, healthy images and it’s sexy. It’s a chronicle of the college experience. It’s very wholesome. It’s very clean. It’s treated just like a magazine.”

A&F has a history of publishing racy catalogs targeted to young people. Starting in 1997, the Ohio-based company shifted from a typical, free clothing catalog to a publication filled with erotic pictures and other features.

After a 10-year-old in Michigan bought a catalog in 1999, the state attorney general ordered the company to stop distributing it to minors. When Illinois Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood found her 14-year-old daughter’s 1999 Christmas issue (theme: “Naughty and Nice”) she was so outraged she called for a consumer boycott of A&F and created a website to that end (www.stopAandF.com). For those who may doubt the truly pornographic nature of this catalog, Lt. Gov. Wood includes on the website a sampling of the photos, along with strategically placed www.stopAandF.com signs to cover the nudity.

As a result of Wood’s efforts, the company now shrink-wraps the catalog and customers who desire to purchase it in stores are “carded” to check their age — at least that’s the company’s official policy. One pro-family group, however, checked this practice and found that a teen-looking staffer was able to purchase the catalog without being carded.

In Wood’s view, the company has merely used a “series of gimmicks” to give the appearance of response to customer concern while continuing their “sleazy marketing practices.” The Lt. Gov. renewed her call for an A&F boycott last month.

What can you do?

1) Take your clothing dollars elsewhere. Then write A&F’s president and tell him you’ve done so:
Michael Jeffries, President
Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.
4 Limited Parkway
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-5302
Phone: (614) 577-6500
Fax: (614) 577-6565

2) Sign on to Lt. Gov. Wood’s boycott petition at her website.

3) Tell others about the A&F boycott and encourage them to participate.

The A&F catalog is yet another illustration of the fact that we live in a sexually saturated culture that is constantly at work to undermine biblical morality. Christians should not participate in advancing A&F’s blatant campaign to normalize pornography by purchasing its products.
Smith is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness newsjournal.

    About the Author

  • James A. Smith
  • James A. Smith, Sr.
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