A&F Quarterly, Abercrombie & Fitch's controversial magalog described by some as "Playboy for tweens," is being relaunched after a seven-year absence.
First published in the retailer's heyday in Fall 1997, A&F Quarterly featured college-centric articles as well as photo essays by Bruce Weber depicting models in erotic or homoerotic scenarios. Those images, as well as content including alcoholic drink recipes, sex tips or porn star interviews, led to numerous boycotts from religious and women's groups. The quarterly was discontinued in December 2003, although it returned to London in Spring 2009.
The 176-page publication, available July 17, will be sold for $10. The new issue's Hollywood theme includes photography by Mr. Weber.
Comparable-store sales at A&F fell 19 percent at the A&F chain in 2009 but recovered somewhat to show a one percent gain in the first quarter.
"They are starting to reconnect with some of their customers and want to drive more traffic into their stores and e-commerce site," RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin told The Associated Press. "A catalog is one way for them to do that."
Some wondered how the magalog will be received, considering their tween target's obsession with social media.
"It's pretty exciting news," said Michael Wood, vice president of Teenage Research Unlimited to The Columbus Dispatch. "I think that young people are bombarded by so many images that are virtual -- websites, apps, images shared, even Google images -- it all kind of runs together. This is a way to be big and fashionable and to stand out."
He further noted that the original publications have become collectors' items.
But consultant Chris Boring of Boulevard Strategies found the revival "a real head-scratcher."
"For any company, let alone an apparel retailer, to be starting a magazine in this economy really bucks the trends," said Mr. Boring. "I just don't see the market out there for a $10 magazine, especially with teenagers so into technology. I would think the money would be better spent on some new mobile app."
"The only thing I can think of," Mr. Boring added, "is maybe they miss all the controversy and publicity that came off of that."
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the relaunch of the A&F Quarterly? Does Abercrombie & Fitch have to be controversial to succeed? How will the current preoccupation with social media affect the magalog?
Is the relaunch of the A&F Quarterly a good or bad idea for Abercrombie & Fitch?