Marketing a push-up bra to an 8-year-old is probably not the best business strategy. Hence, the reason why Abercrombie and Fitch's Ashley Push-Up Triangle bikini has been dubbed the worst product flop of 2011.
Yahoo Finance's 24/7 Wall Street has placed the Ashley Push-Up Triangle in its No. 1 slot for biggest product failure of the year.
In March 2011, Abercrombie & Fitch unveiled its spring children's collection for Abercrombie Kids. This particular store targets children ages 8 to 14. Included in the line was the Ashley Push-Up Triangle, a bikini top with triangle-shaped fabric lined with push-up padding.
The product immediately elicited angry responses from parents across the nation. The push-up bra is, effectively, a sex tool, designed to push the breasts up and out, putting them front and center, where they're more accessible to the eye (and everything else), parenting blog Babble wrote.
How is this okay for a second-grader? Playing at sexy is an inevitable and important part of growing up. But there's a difference between exploring these ideas on your own and having them sold to you in a children's catalog. Right now, somewhere in the world, a girl is shopping at Abercrombie Kids and getting the message that her breasts might need a little help.
Several child development experts voiced similar criticism, stating that the top sexualized young girls. Gail Dines, a sociology professor at Wheelock College in Boston, concurred. It (also) sends out really bad signals to adult men about young girls being appropriate sexual objects, she told CNN affiliate WHDH.
At first, Abercrombie tried to alleviate the problem by labeling the top as padded and claiming that it was never intended for young girls. We've re-categorized the Ashley swimsuit as padded. We agree with those who say it is best 'suited' for girls age 12 and older, read a statement on Abercrombie's official Facebook page.
However, while the bottoms are still available, the top is no longer sold or featured on the company's Web site.
Abercrombie is no stranger to controversy. In the 1990s, the brand came under fire for its magazine, the A&F Quarterly. The publication, readily available to minors, featured sexually explicit content including pornography-esque photo spreads. The nude editorials by Bruce Weber, articles about sex, and recipes for alcoholic beverages proved to be too much for religious and social activist groups. In 2002, the retailer ruffled feathers when it launched a line of girls' thongs emblazoned with slogans like Wink Wink and Eye Candy.