Abercrombie & Fitch Not Focused On Sexy Abs Now, Just Wants You To Be Your “Best Self”

Image courtesy of Molly

We’ve come a long way from the days of glistening abs stretching across every Abercrombie & Fitch billboard and shopping bag, and “cool” executives who’d rather not deal with any uncool customers: as the company continues its campaign toward wholesomeness, the new focus is on making shoppers feel good about themselves.

The company says its designs and marketing will now be focused on the shopper’s “best self and inner confidence,” Chief Merchandising Officer Fran Horowitz told analysts Tuesday, as reported by CNBC. “Image is less important than character.”

Abercrombie has been trying to retool its image from the 1990s version of itself that banked on sexual imagery and clothing made only for people cool enough to wear it. Those “cool” people ostensibly wore khaki cargo shorts. Last year, the company decided to stop using shirtless models in its marketing, and has been moving toward a “casual luxury” vibe instead of “oversexed college freshman on spring break for the first time” vibe. That new store atmosphere also means that not being undeniably hot is no longer an impediment to getting a job there.

In order to make this shift, the company is planning on pumping money into marketing that conveys this new image, and will be testing a new store format early next year.

The company could use the makeover, as its sales have been struggling lately in the face of competition from other retailers: Abercrombie posted its 14th straight quarter of declining sales, and says it doesn’t expect comparable sales to improve this year, despite predicting otherwise. Shares dropped nearly 21% on Tuesday, the biggest-one day drop the company’s had since 2001, Reuters notes.