10.28.2015

Abercrombie, Insurgency And Overdue Acknowledgement

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The Abercrombie model is abolished, but it’s never too late for an apology.

Wearing the clothes was never enough because the Abercrombie model didn’t wear clothes. No, you – the wide-eyed dreamer – had to immerse yourself in the dim smog of perfume at the location nearest you, until consumed and reincarnated as a bronzed emblem of the upper middle class. If you hate John Mayer, this is who you think you hate. Or at least hated.

Abercrombie & Fitch – bankrupt and no longer repulsed by fat people – has retired the Abercrombie model. The ultimate object of opposition, extinct. Surely only a matter of time until the stores themselves retire to the recesses of a bygone generation’s hallway warfare.

I mourn the fresh void of the Abercrombie abs, where I once cast such hate. The airbrushed hunks and windswept princesses forged the first tribes of “Us” and “Them.” Resenting the establishment 101. Although anything but exclusive, exclusion was the name of the Abercrombie game. The branded brats bred insecurity. Smug, palatable excess that ate at you, quietly, as you skimmed the sale rack.

Even now, you can smell Abercrombie through every Facebook picture featuring the fat, wooly embroidering. The scent – you know the scent – degrades as well as plastic. The sepia PTSD from one too many bag-turned-posters lingers similarly.

Coalesced in the shadow cast by middle-of-the-mall ubiquity, “Us” remain. And I guess we won. But Abercrombie defined the resistance as much as its advocates. Girl jeans were a perverse reappropriation of the All-American Abercrombian construct. The preps practiced cubicle constraint and I shrank my jeans in the dryer every morning. Nothing spits on the patriarchy quite like squeezing your dick down the leg of your sister’s jeans.

The giant was, of course, just a humbug. Inflated by the limited and fleeting context of junior high and high school. Tacky pretentiousness. Microwaved cool. Timeless just in the sense that it would never endure. Ceremoniously thrown aside in favor of North Face and factory store Ralph Lauren. Only 90’s kids, indeed.

Even Abercrombie sells skinny jeans for guys these days. Embraced by the uniform mass no differently than the despicable fatties. Some of “Them” will never shed the suit-and-tie training wheels. Forever cocooned in some big, wooly equivalent. And yet, others will become effusively empathetic in spite of privilege. The people who dig wells in Africa for vacation.

Most of “Us” won the war at the price of the battle. Burnouts. Emo kids. Fags. But we were dressed-up all the same, if not similarly dressed. Practicing naive flimsy masked in cynicism. The truth is, I only squeezed my dick down the leg of my sister’s jeans after bootcut expanse proved too expensive.

Benjamin Jeffery (@jawcuzzi) is a big, strong man.