Racy A&F Quarterly Returns
By Tom Ryan
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
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
"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
"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
"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?
- Risque catalog returning to stores – The Columbus Dispatch
- Abercrombie & Fitch brings back racy catalog – The
- Bringing Racy Back – Portfolio