It’s a reverse revolution in London, England these days. A cry of, “the Americans are coming; the Americans are coming” can be heard all over Burlington Gardens as U.S.-based retailer Abercrombie & Fitch opened a store. The store’s novelty hook: hunky male greeters dressed only in jeans and flip-flops to usher customers into the new Abercrombie kingdom. Is this borrowing a Wal-Mart tactic – minus the blue hair and crotchety handshake?
British women seem amazed by it all and somewhat enthusiastic, judging from blog entries on the London Times Web site. British men seem frankly intimidated since they are hardly known for six-pack abs and sculptured thighs. Even James Bond, that epitome of English masculinity, rarely showed skin on screen. His hallmark was a well-tailored tux.
The Brits are twittering over the very American marketing ploy and the blogs contain some very interesting insights. For example: most Abercrombie & Fitch customers are female and most of the clothes the company sells in the U.S. are for women. However, Abercrombie loves to use male models to project their image.
Most catalogues and other promotional literature, including store displays (and now greeters) are focused on young male bodies. I am a little lost to understand how images of sculptured males make fashionista women want to run out and buy Abercrombie & Fitch pants, t-shirts, shorts and jackets. Generally, women like to identify with other female images. So, go figure.
Another insight is into store decor. The dark, clubby atmosphere of the new London store has a clearly masculine feel. Come to think of it, so do most American Abercrombie & Fitch stores. There’s just something boyish about the interiors and fixturing. How does that draw in women in droves?
I don’t know why, but it seems to work in the very successful world of Abercrombie & Fitch.
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