I wonder what would happen if all the Abercrombie & Fitch clad youths read this article. How would they react if they knew that the mastermind behind their favorite brand is a raging lunatic? Would they even care?
With help from Benoit Denizet-Lewis, I saw Mike Jeffries for the mad scientist that he is, striving to create his monster, the ideal male “all-American” youth. He embodies the persona of a Greek architect sculpting the musculature of some athlete or warrior from marble. And his motto “casually flawless” isn’t really casual at all. He wants his models to look as if they just rolled out of bed, threw on some Abercrombie & Fitch clothing with their eyes closed, and went to class looking fantastic but with that effortless and apathetic attitude. Ironically, there’s a lot of effort behind the “effortless” look. All the shirts are wrinkled and faded, appearing to be “vintage” while the customer bought it fresh off the shelf. I also never understood the ripped jeans-why would you pay someone to rip your jeans for you? Are you incapable of doing it yourself?
What surprised me was this ideal that Jeffries produced that he doesn’t even fit into (similar to Hitler and his obsession with blonde hair and blue eyes while he was a brunette!). He’s obsessed with the young generation, yet he’s 61 years old! He’s one of those sad older people who can’t accept their aging and instead, try to work against the clock and remain young. His “dyed hair, perfectly white teeth, golden tan, bulging biceps, wrinkle-free face, and big, Angelina Jolie lips” makes me shudder. I envision him as this obsessive artificial person, and the more I read, the more repulsed I became. How did this man get so far? He’s very driven and dedicated to his work, but it’s his mind that’s corrupted. I was in disbelief when he said that he was only promoting to the “cool kids”. Who says that? It’s true that clothing labels usually always advertise with attractive people, but who actually comes and says that they only want to market to “good-looking” people? What a selfish and horrifying statement! To me, Jeffries sounds like one of those kids who just had to be in with the “cool crowd” to feel accepted, but was never allowed entry. His conformity is displayed through his wearing Levi’s all throughout high school, and his statement that if you weren’t wearing them, you were “weird” supports his complete insecurity. He never had the typical “all-American” high school experience and is now trying to do so, at 61 years old. Abercrombie & Fitch is geared towards an exclusive customer, yet as Denizet-Lewis says, it has a “mass appeal.” For those customers who don’t fit that body type and character, how would they feel knowing that they’re not meant to be wearing those clothes? Apparently all that matters to Jeffries is the target consumer and if that rare group of people is satisfied, then that’s all that matters. So then why does everyone else keep buying those clothes, even after prices have increased to ridiculous amounts? Everyone wants to personify that flawless youthful being, which only a few possess. While Jeffries wants to only appeal to the “all-American youth” he can relate more to everyone else adding to his profits who are just like him and want to fit in.
Denizet-Lewis knew what he was doing when he ended his article with Jeffries consumed with the appearance of his mannequins. His meticulous concern over the size of the male mannequin’s crotch and how low his pants should sag until they were almost falling off was quite comical, even though I’m sure Jeffries’ brows were furrowed when contemplating such an imperative issue. His statement, “Let’s get them as low as we can without them falling off. We don’t want him looking like an old guy,” supports his complete fear of aging. Overall, Jeffries really irked me. I found it especially disturbing that someone that old should be so fixated on the sex appeal of such a younger generation.