You know who else is a comeback kid? Courrèges.
For an otherwise under-the-radar species, moose had a great early 2000s. They were the mascot of Abercrombie & Fitch in its heyday, back when Bruce Weber shot the naked campaigns and the OC personified its lifestyle.
Like the OC, the retailer’s decline was not without dropped-sales and drama: Abercrombie stripped former-CEO Mike Jeffries of his chairman role after quotes began resurfacing in the media of things he’d said in beyond-poor taste. He officially retired in December 2014 and the brand starting working on their makeover.
A few months ago an Instagram ad prompted me to scroll back up and see what “those jeans” were. The answer: Abercrombie & Fitch. Separately, a friend texted me that she bought a suede A&F jacket on a window-browsing whim. Savvy fashion fans began making quiet visits to the store’s website to purchase henleys — those ribbed, half-snap tops synonymous with the heady smell of 8 and Fierce — once Altuzarra showed them on the runway.
If I were Summer Roberts, here’s where I’d begin to wonder if Abercromie & Fitch was having a bit of a comeback.
Said Instagram-ad jeans arrived at our office as a press gift. Their high waist hit in just the right belly-button spot. The wash was flattering, the fabric soft but not gross-stretchy. They were cool. They were good. I asked the press office if they could loan a few more items: a suede skirt, 90s-shaped tops, a classic oxford, a pair of wildcard plaid wide-leg trousers and of course, a henley. My objective was simple: to see if my reaction was purely nostalgic, or if I’d actually wear this stuff.
Test one was the aforementioned jeans. They passed the Dazed & Confused litmus test: consider them added to my wardrobe.
Test two was putting together a whole outfit that didn’t read neck-to-knee ‘Crombie. What it ended up looking like — and a lot of the new stuff does — was that I went shopping at Topshop or The Reformation: a little bit trendy but not in a schizophrenic way.
Test three was to figure out what the hell to do with these pants, because they looked cool online but I wasn’t so sure how they’d fare in person. Though I styled them a little more (a lot more) Joni Mitchell than I’m inclined to dress, I felt great in them. Consider these added, too.
What “the new Abercrombie” no longer has is that recognizable-from-anywhere A&F look; no iconic silhouette for similar high street brands to emulate. That day is gone. But for a brand that once pushed away its customers by strategically making others feel excluded, this new open-arms style similar to Zara or H&M — Come in on a whim and possibly leave with an outfit for tonight! — is a smart move. It will cause nostalgic shoppers and potential new buyers to pause by that intoxicating blend of too much cologne and too much music and think, “Why not? Let’s go in.”
As for the moose: not present on a single item above, save for the hidden tags. It prefers a low-key life. But it says hi. So does the teenage you.