Does sex still sell.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Bond Street, a long corridor of fine shopping with black Mercedes S-Classes lined up across the pavement reminiscent of stranded killer whales. Inside the beach coloured interiors of the cars are patient chauffeurs awaiting their employer to return with small bags containing goods the likes of Smythsson, TOD’s and Cartier.
Opposite the well renowned Cartier store is Ralph Lauren’s flagship store that brings warmth to the world luxury retail where an ordinary experience is hearing the echo of your shoes clapping against marble floors, while sales assistant with poor attitudes are visually scanning you in search of evidence that a potential customer is standing before their eyes. A slight hint wood and amber in the air soothes the mind as the mahogany walls and greenery indoors replicates the feel of a Berkeley Square town house. Even the security guards fit in thanks to sharp and dapper outfits different from the usual security guards wearing in near disposable £45 suit from Primemark. The store assistants need no introduction as their highly inviting outfits made up of Ralph Lauren’s own clothes, makes for a worthy source for inspiration.

A few footsteps around the corner of building is a peculiar clothing retailer in a gorgeous building, which interior suggest that it previously was a bank or a governmental building. The purity and simplicity of an official governmental building has preserved on the outside, where there is nothing to suggest that it’s worth while taking a step into the open doors revealing a very dim interior. Surviving solely on word-of-mouth discovering the store happen either through the retailers website or a mention from a stoked customers. It’s the same principle as a big black birthmark on the back, fully visible it is all out in the open but until someone points it out to you, you have no idea that it’s in fact a cancer tumour. The mystery retailer is Abercrombie & Fitch.

Without the support of local advertising A&F have managed to make a name for themselves by dazzling European shoppers with a unique experience not available elsewhere. And sure is the experience unique, as their London store is a terrific place to get your wallet drained in the most rouge. The irony is that the prices in store makes RL look like a bargain. Unlike in the US where Ralph Lauren is the more expensive brand, A&F have simply switched out Dollar sign for the Sterling Pound one on the price tags. An overwhelming majority of their clothes are therefore more expensive than similar products at Ralph Lauren. Sweaters priced at £250 certainly puts the brand in the same price spectrum as Armani Exchange. Astonishingly the severely inflated price tags don’t deter customers from shopping base as the shop is crowded with spending happy tourists during summer, some days with excruciatingly long queues inside.

The popularity is well called for, how can you not want to be in a store where female store assistants are all pretty wearing low cut jeans and greet you with a cute smile, it’s heaven in there. An Olympic is advised to bring along because the darkness is beyond imaginable. Don’t kid yourselves, this store is darker than any pub or bar on earth. The darkness is so deep that what might be a green polo might surprisingly turn out to be cyan when you get to inspect it in natural light. The thumping music is blasted loudly through speakers in all areas of the shop either makes you feel good or tear your eardrums into pieces. In other words it’s a club that sell clothes instead of pint glasses with coke and Jack Daniels.

The overwhelming percentage of blond female store assistants for eye candy do encourage shopping, at the cost of their own well being. Working in near darkness with loud rock and house music that might not even be of your liking, must be very distressing. Add the lack of windows and the unbearable noise level for having a discussion with a customer or co-worker, and the store must be hells pit for the staff unless they enjoy working in such atrocious conditions. The store manger could probably not ask for more as there were an unprecedented amount of eager shoppers lined up outside the store during the first days of the Christmas sale. In fact the queue stretched well into Savile Row that’s around the bend. No other retailer in London can rival such hysteria except for Louis Vuitton which had their inventory of women’s designer bags cleared out by hundreds of East Asian visitors who were unconsciously helping the struggling London retail sector. It’s now proven that sexy sales assistants make men with big wallets shell out money as even men in their 30s feel cool and proud walking around in a T-shirt with the letters A and F on the chest. Evidently the world is a better place if retailers wouldn’t replicate the same store concept as Abercrombie & Fitch. People should be hired on the basis of their personality and experience rather than getting called in for an interview thanks to a pretty Facebook profile picture or getting a job because the human resource manager love tight their bum looks in Miss Sixy jeans.


YouNeed2Know said...

Hmm, yeah! However, you forgot to mention how crap the quality is of A&F garments.

I walked into our local A&F and was appalled at the quality of the clothing. It fit like cheap knock-offs that one would find at any low-end department store. And, the styling is as about as blandly middle American as it comes.

I don't know who wears A&F. But, it's certainly not me.

Paul said...

my younger brother is one of the managers of A & F here in the states. he lives by his i have never and will never wear a piece from the brand. as the previous commentator pointed out, the clothing is cheap and bland.

p.s. the article seems to be written a little subpar in grammar and word choice in comparison to your previous posts. but i do enjoy your viewpoint, nethertheless.

iluwfashion said...

Youneed2know: Not only is the quality inferior to RL, but A&F lack any form of runway presence of prestige.

Paul: Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated!

YouNeed2Know said...

@iluw: The runway presence I'm not too concerned about - I am aware that some people find that prestigious though. There are a few local and regional designers I patronize that have very little runway presence - they may do a local show here and there, but that's it. And, while they may not have "big names", their garments are exceptional in all respects.

What I don't get about A&F is that quite a few guys seem to really love the stuff - the shop is always near capacity every time I go by it. And, for the life of me, I just can't figure it.

However, as you pointed out in your article, they may get so hypnotized by the "pretty young things" when they walk into A&F that they lose all sense of dressing well.

Blocky said...

Thanks for that post!

The Abercrombie & Fitch Store is in fact an "unique" experience, though you didn't mention the atrocious smell: last time I've been there, it wasn't only dark and loud, the whole store was filled with the heavy smell of their perfume. As if it wasn't hard enough to breathe already, with so many people clumped in one place. It was unbearable.

I've heard stories about A&F from other shoppers before, who were, to say the least, quite surprised about the building, the store's concept and also about the topless male model hugging 14-year-old teens for a quick souvenir photo.

The clothes are okay, even if not for the price, and the concept could've been revolutionary, if it was done with style. But in the end it's just an excessively bland and exaggerated exposition of some bloated wannabe american lifestyle.

Which is sad, but probably also the reason why it sells so well, that people queue up in front of the store...

Tamia said...

Please say it ain't so. A&F is international? Marketed as a luxury brand? Is the sky falling?

I really enjoyed the article!l There were a few grammatical errors, but I thought the tone and content were informative and entertaining.

Frank & Rémy said...

sorry to say this but YES SEX DOES SELL!

Anonymous said...

mcgallo said...

Ralph Lauren is so good! Wonderful chic! Always.... Great glasses by the way!

*Your Blog are so genius! You are a chic man! :)*