Protesting the Abercrombie & Fitch Christmas catalog is becoming an annual holiday ritual, but this year the Ohio-based clothing retailer has reached a new low, contend anti-porn and family advocacy groups who are launching an unprecedented offensive.
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Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs have taken on a new look since this 1940 edition
Along with sexually explicit images, the company’s “Christmas Field Guide” tells young people in no uncertain terms “there are no sexual boundaries and no consequences to any sexual behavior,” says the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families.
“They are using clothing to sell a philosophy and a way of thinking about sexuality that is dangerous and risky,” Maryam Kubasek, spokeswoman for the group, told WorldNetDaily.
Though previous protests seem to have had minimal effect, Kubasek says this one is necessary because Abercrombie’s “maglog,” as it is called, is getting worse.
“They are not backing away from the text or the visuals,” she said. “It has become clear to us that if we do not rise up and say this is wrong, it will continue and send a message to similar clothing retailers that you can advertise like this.”
Founded in 1892, the company operates 641 stores in the U.S., including Abercrombie Kids and Hollister Co., which it introduced in 2000.
The quarterly catalog, which is sold at the company’s stores, has been published since 1998, and in previous years it has drawn the protest of political leaders such as Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, the Chicago City Council, Illinois Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood and Illinois state Sen. Patrick O’Malley.
An order by the Michigan attorney general in 1999 – citing a state law barring disseminating, exhibiting and displaying sexual explicit matter to minors – forced Abercrombie to limit sale of the catalogue to people 18 and over and require ID.
This year’s issue, the slipcover says, offers “280 Pages of Moose, Ice Hockey, Chivalry, Group Sex & More … .”
One article says “a pleasant and supersafe alternative to [group sex] is group masturbation – sometimes called a circle jerk or Jack-and-Jill-Off.”
Mark Millar, a comic book writer shares this thought: “My idea is you have the Old Testament, the New Testament, and this is the Final Testament. This is a thing about Jesus coming back as a 12-year-old kid … pontificating whether or not he should masturbate … .”
In another interview, Sari Locker, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sex,” says: “College is the time when you have the greatest opportunity to have sex [and] the highest number of potential sexual partners … .”
This year’s issue also includes a “sexpertise” column that says kids going to college “shouldn’t be looking for someone to marry.” Rather they should be “focused on getting experience.”
The “sexpert” employed by Abercrombie offers advice on “sex for three” and tells readers willing to “go down” on a date at the movies it’s OK, “just so long as you do not disturb those around you.”
A comparison column advises men on the benefits of sleeping with young school girls as opposed to older women, comparing the “fruits” of biting into “fresh apple right off the tree” versus the “store-bought variety that sit on the shelf wrinkled and bruised from the handling.”
Making something out of nothing
An Abercrombie spokesman with the company’s PR firm in New York has not responded to a WND request for comment.
The company’s chairman and CEO, Michael Jeffries, was the creator of the catalogue’s concept, according to its developer Sam Shahid.
“Mike planted the seeds and we took off, and he’s major in this thing with support – and with ideas,” Shahid said in a 1999 interview with the New York Post.
Responding to criticism, Shahid said, “I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong. Sex has always been there. It’s very healthy, and I’m very open about everything.”
If there’s a problem, it’s not with Abercrombie, he seemed to suggest.
“When people make something out of a thing that’s not there, they’re reading their own problems into it, or their fears or what they may be guilty of,” Shahid said.
Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, observes the magazine obviously needs to push the boundaries a bit farther each year, noting, “In this culture, you have to work hard to remain scandalous.”
What Abercrombie is doing, he said, is not about “just clothing, just advertising, or just publicity. It’s buying into a lifestyle.”
Last year, he notes, Abercrombie sold thong underwear for girls, in children’s sizes, with the words, “Eye Candy” and “Wink Wink” printed on the front.
In a June 2001 column, National Review Editor William F. Buckley said he came across the catalogue while purchasing a pair of pants.
The current issue at the time, he said, “goes far in suggesting that young men and women are better off wearing no clothes, which leaves the catalogue reader wondering what it is that A&F will make money from.”
“Perhaps,” he suggested, “its catalogue, which of course is best advertised by the fiction that one really needs, in order to purchase it, an ID establishing that the purchaser is 18 years old.”
Buckley said by the time the reader gets to the last part of the book, which actually displays clothes, “he is hotly indignant: What are all those shirts and shorts and pants doing, interrupting my view of the naked kids! I mean, I showed you my ID, didn’t I?”
Abercrombie has caught criticism from other issue groups.
In 1998, an article in the catalogue titled “Drinking 101″ included alcohol recipes, raising the ire of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which noted the company’s target audience includes kids below the legal drinking age. Abercrombie promised to remove the article from future reprintings of the issue.
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T-shirts sold by Abercrombie & Fitch
Last year, Asian groups boycotted the company for a new line of T-shirts depicting racial stereotypes.
One shirt read: “Wong Brothers Laundry Service – Two Wongs Can Make It White” and showed two smiling men with slanted eyes wearing conical hats.
Abercrombie said it thought the shirts were funny but pulled them from its stores.
“We personally thought Asians would love this T-shirt,” said spokesman Hampton Carney.
“We’re very, very, very sorry,” Carney said. “It’s never been our intention to offend anyone.”
Editor’s note: America’s toxic youth culture is the focus of the upcoming December issue of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, an astonishing insider look at “The Marketing of Evil.” Ever wonder why extreme body piercing and tattooing, gangland clothing, boundless sexual experimentation and other harmful behaviors — at progressively younger and younger ages – have taken such a powerful hold on today’s young people? This issue has the answers you’ve never read anywhere else. Subscribe to Whistleblower.