Monday, October 26, 2009

It's a Hardknock Life

I have mentioned that I have a daughter. She is about to turn 5. She is a tall almost 5 year old and hasn't worn pants in over 2 1/2 years. This gets a little tricky when she is actually a Head Stand Champion. Thank goodness for bloomers. But now we don't usually get bloomers complimentary with every purchase of a dress or skirt. She is fast outgrowing the toddler section of any store and I have to tell you the future options of dressing Caroline do not make me happy. I go from fairly modest, cute clothes (and yes, there is always the way too cutesy stuff out there) to full on teen-age, barely there styles. So, by the age of 6 girls have to choose between either going with the nice Pioneer/old-school Laura Ashley look or they have the selection they have in most department/box stores. Because this is where I shop friends. I truly think it is ridiculous to spend a lot of money on my quickly growing young kids when I can find great stuff for great prices. Except I am running out of great stuff. The pickings are slim. And I end up sewing more and more (which is great, don't get me wrong, but time-consuming - does this make me lazy?).

What is more, I feel like there is some strange, underground current that is washing age-inappropriate clothing ashore. Popular clothing lines and popular culture that think our daughters by the age of 8 should have a thong line available to them or have suggestive graphics or words on their clothing. It drives me bonkers. Not only for my own daughter's sake but because I am growing young boys too. Boys that are being taught that you treat girls/ladies/women with respect and dignity. I know there are many solutions to all this but I was reading a woman's blog the other day and loved her letter to a well-known clothier. With her permission, her is letter:

Abercrombie & Fitch: YAWN.

Sep 22, 09

Dear Abercrombie,

You bore me. Yawn, yawn, and double-yawn. Your latest attempt to clothe our girls in trashy t-shirts like the ones pictured above is so very, UNORIGINAL. Don’t you remember? You tried the trashy t-shirt campaign already, once before. Seems I remember it was right on the heels of the launch of your tho*ng underwear line to young girls. Who can forget the disturbing messages printed on the front like, “Wink, Wink” and “Eye Candy?” Probably not the dads of the girls you marketed the line to, I imagine.

All that to say, I’m not sure what led you to resurrect the old trashy t-shirt campaign, but I’m guessing it’s a last ditch attempt to get back in the news. Perhaps you are relying on your once loyal market demographic: Young women with zero self-esteem and zero self-respect. You know, the kind of girls who are so desperate for attention that they’re willing to settle for the wrong kind of attention. Because let’s be honest, the only person who would wear one of the t-shirts above is someone who doesn’t think they have anything else to offer other than well, their parts and services. But here’s where your thinking is severely flawed: Girls have become much more adept at identifying the real M.O. behind marketing schemes such as yours. They are tired of being portrayed as nothing more than objects for the male-viewing pleasure. In other words, the gig is up. I guess you didn’t get the memo. They’re onto you now.

Which leads me to ask…is that old-enough-to-be-a-gramp-pa, Michael Jeffries still running your company? Did anyone tell him that it’s no longer even considered fashionable to dress like a hoochie? It’s sooooo yesterday, as in Britney-what’s-her-name kinda yesterday. If you see Mr. Jeffries, tell him I have an idea for a radical marketing stunt: If he has a grand-daughter (and he very well may, since he’s in his mid-sixties), would he be willing to do a photo shoot with his little princess wearing one of the trashy tee’s above? Maybe he could stand next to her with his arm around her and do a cheesy thumb’s up sign. No? Just an idea…

My guess is that he’s feeling a bit desperate as of late, since net sales for the month of August, 2009, fell 23% from sales posted in August, 2008. Some analysts are even buzzing that A&F is past it’s company sell-by date and bankruptcy may be just around the corner. So sad. It must be very tense around there. I imagine you guys are chalking up the sales decline to the struggling economy. While that may be a major variable, another cause could be your over-the-top, “sex sells” campaigns. While I’m disappointed that you would once again attempt to resurrect the trashy-tee campaign, in a way, I’m also kind of glad. I personally see this as the final nail in your company coffin. Because hey, everyone knows that when sales are down, you go to desperate lengths to offend what little is left of your customer-base, right?

In the meantime, just know that moms like me will remain vigilant in equipping our daughters to identify marketing campaigns that prey on the insecurities of young women. And more importantly, we will encourage our girls to close their wallets to key offenders, such as your company. And for that reason, your days are numbered. Mark my words.


Vicki Courtney

What do you think? I love it. But I do want to hear your opinions, solutions, rants. The original post is found here at Vicki Courtney's blog.


Christy said...

What an awesome letter! And I didn't realize girls your children's age had so few options. I'm all in the one year old clothes with my daughter now - and she looks too cute every day! And age appropriate to boot!

And wow, I think it's so cool that you're sewing her clothes. I've just decided that I MUST learn to sew -- so I'm hoping to borrow my mom's machine, and sign up for a class. I can't even hem a pair of pants - that's what really bothers me. I have all these long maternity pants I'm now wearing, and they're dragging around the ground. I look like a hoodlum! ugh!

leandparkermakes3 said...

Great, great letter. Abercrombie, I used to love you, now I can't stand you!

Suzan said...

I work at a store in the mall just a few doors down from Abercrombie. I have only stepped foot in that store one time and once was enough for me. I can't stand the vibe in that place!
One day while I was working a Mother and her two teenage boys came into our store wearing the " Females wanted" shirts... It was shocking to me, to be honest. I was shocked that any company would stoop so low, I was shocked that anybody would actually buy these shirts, and I absolutely could not believe that a mother would allow her sons to wear something like this. Does she have no self respect herself... she thought it was funny. To me, a mother of 2 boys, I found it unfathomable, I had no words for her, but fortunately my co worker did! She gave the boys and their mother a piece of her mind. I agree with the letter and I really hope this is the end of Abercrombie... ughh!

Raydar Love said...

I love it and I hate A&F. I used to manage some men's housing at a small church school in Idaho. When I would enter the apartments I would find A&F catalogs in most apartments. The strange thing about their advertising is that no clothes were displayed, just naked men & women.

I'm loving this revolution. What can I do to help?

paula said...

I love it! Perfect letter.

Mrs. Olsen said...

Vicki Courtney is a freaking genius.

I JUST heard about Old Navy selling thongs to little girls. Maybe Vicki can nip them in the bud before they go to these lengths (cuz let's be honest...Old Navy has some great sales for those growing weeds we're all raising).

Anonymous said...

Well some of their clothing is respectable and cute... You don't HAVE to buy the hoochie type stuff. They sell other options.