Abercrombie & Fitch has long been known for its use of homoerotic imagery in its ad campaigns and editorial spreads. In a new steamy clip, the clothing brand goes one step further by featuring hunky male models wrestling, showering and even kissing.
Abercrombie & Fitch's newest advertisement campaign, four online Webersodes shot by famed photographer Bruce Weber, features steamy clips of shirtless, muscular models romping around in (scant) A&F gear. The montage, titled Other Sports Require One Ball, shows men wrestling, showering together and at one point kissing on the forehead.
Many are pleased with A&F's latest move. They say that it is about time the company came proudly out of the closet and marketed a gay aesthetic in a positive, rather than ambiguous, light. Taking a stance now is a must, both for the retailer and for those who would support and market to the gay community, on moral grounds and for solid business reasons.
U.S. retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has long had a marketing strategy that included catalogues and advertisements featuring young athletic men and women with the males often captured in homoerotic moments, wrote Gay Star News writer Greg Hernandez.
It's a strategy that has effectively appealed to gay males who the company counts on to buy casual wear from one of its 300 locations around the US... A&F, which used to publish hugely popular quarterly catalogues filled with homoerotic images, seems to have finally crossed the line from being a total tease to openly gay!
The spicy ads have caught the attention of bloggers across the Internet, who marveled at the risqué move by Weber.
Abercrombie & Fitch is globally renowned for using homoerotic imagery to promote its sporty apparel - but in its latest round of advertisements, the clothing retailer is going an extra step by featuring a kiss between two shirtless hunks, wrote the Huffington Post's Gay Voices.
Never shy in using homoerotic imagery to promote their wares, A&F's steamy new campaign appears to be taking its cue from late '80s pop videos, depicting as it does a number of snake-hipped models shot in monochrome, wrestling each other to the ground and smooching - when they aren't striking provocative poses, wrote a staff writer at the UK's PinkNews.com.
Will these new Bruce Weber ads for Abercrombie & Fitch revamp the brand?
Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in 1892 as an upscale sporting goods store. Over the next century, the retailer would fall financially, be purchased by Mike Jeffries in 1988 and experience a rebirth in the late '90s and 2000s, emerging as a multi-billion dollar entity. A&F began to push the envelope with its advertisement campaigns as well as in its catalogue, the A&F Quarterly, which was published from 1997 to 2003 with a revival in 2010.
The retailer hit a high in May 2007, with a stock price of $82.65. That same year the company reported record annual earnings of $3.318 billion. Its stock is currently priced at $49.12. In 2006, A&F CEO Jeffries was a puppeteer of American youth, able to maneuver social constructs and norms through his then-omnipresent clothing brand.
His biggest obsession, though, is realizing his singular vision of idealized all-American youth. He wants desperately to look like his target customer (the casually flawless college kid), and in that pursuit he has aggressively transformed himself from a classically handsome man into a cartoonish physical specimen: dyed hair, perfectly white teeth, golden tan, bulging biceps, wrinkle-free face, and big, Angelina Jolie lips, wrote Benoit Denizet-Lewis in Salon in 2006. But while he can't turn back the clock, he can - and has - done the next best thing, creating a parallel universe of beauty and exclusivity where his attractions and obsessions have made him millions, shaped modern culture's concepts of gender, masculinity and physical beauty, and made over himself and the world in his image, leaving them both just a little more bizarre than he found them.
With the focus placed on the coiffed male, as in the Weber ad campaign, A&F found a niche.
Much more than just a brand, Abercrombie & Fitch successfully resuscitated a 1990s version of a 1950s ideal - the white, masculine 'beefcake' - during a time of political correctness and rejection of '50s orthodoxy, wrote Denizet-Lewis. But it did so with profound and significant differences. A&F aged the masculine ideal downward, celebrating young men in their teens and early 20s with smooth, gym-toned bodies and perfectly coiffed hair. While feigning casualness (many of its clothes look like they've spent years in washing machine, then a hamper), Abercrombie actually celebrates the vain, highly constructed male.
Abercrombie & Fitch's newest ad campaign puts that focus back on the ideal male specimen -- not decidedly homosexual or heterosexual -- with chiseled abs, brooding faces and thick, lush hair. Weber photographed the infamous A&F Quarterly with this direction, as well.
Gay men across America were eagerly collecting the magazines, lured by photographer Bruce Weber's taste for beautiful, masculine boys playfully pulling off each other's boxers, wrote Denizet-Lewis in 2006.
But, at the time, Jeffries denied that A&F capitalized on the sex sells tactic.
That's just so wrong! he said. I think that what we represent sexually is healthy. It's playful. It's not dark. It's not degrading! And it's not gay, and it's not straight, and it's not black, and it's not white. It's not about any labels. That would be cynical, and we're not cynical! It's all depicting this wonderful camaraderie, friendship, and playfulness that exist in this generation and, candidly, does not exist in the older generation.
Since then, A&F has come under fire for a multitude of offenses including marketing skimpy, inappropriate clothing to children, discriminatory hiring practices and confusion over a fraudulent website working under the A&F name selling n---- brown pants. The popularity it relished in has waned since then.
Now, Weber's sexually suggestive ads have put A&F back on the radar at a time when the brand is in need of some positive press.
Between the gay dance anthems playing in the store and vintage-porn-looking hunks modeling barely-there clothes in ads, Abercrombie's marketing strategy has always been super-gay, reads a post on the gay blog Queerty. But though their ads ooze homoerotic pyrotechnics, they've never actually gone and shown us the full monty, the real act of affection between two hot dudes. Until now!