September 09 2011
I was amused by the facetious offer made by Abercrombie & Fitch to the stars of Jersey Shore not to wear their clothes, as apparently “fans” of the brand were distressed by the non-aspirational nature of the show. Strange, given that it appears to be the height of modern aspiration for the Youtube generation to achieve notoriety through appearing on a reality TV show. Indeed, I am thinking of steering my children into this career path, as I would have thought that there are plenty of openings; it is probably one sector of the economy that is growing, as TV channels in search of ever cheaper programming resort to increasingly recondite reality TV shows. It cannot be long before vocational qualifications in being a reality TV personality become available in our pay-as-you-go universities, as the line between home videos and what is acceptable as broadcast material blurs into meaninglessness (the other day I saw a sticker on a product proudly bearing the words “As seen on Youtube” – might as well say “As seen advertised on the parish noticeboard”).
Anyway, back to Abercrombie. The first visit I paid to Abercrombie in New York, or what I thought was still called Abercrombie & Fitch, I became a man in the middle of my very own Bateman cartoon. I expected it still to be a sort of outdoorsy version of Brooks Brothers and in particular I was looking for safari jacket model number 476, which Ernest Hemingway had helped design – apparently Papa H required a pocket on the arm for his spectacles. When I got there, of course the place was plunged into the sort of Stygian darkness normally associated with power cuts and dodgy nightclubs and I surmised that, even if I could make myself heard over the soundtrack, there was no guarantee that the young muscular men and bored but beautiful-looking girls would know who Hemingway was, let alone where I might find one of his safari jackets.
The Abercrombie look is a sort of standardised form of generic beauty into which I hardly need tell you I do not fit. I am 30 years too old and even when I was a teenager I never had the muscle tone and definition of the young people who are paid to hang around outside the shops in a state of near undress. Which has given me an idea: if the management at Abercrombie think that Jersey Shore is insufficiently on message, just what would they make of a 47-year-old man such as I am, lolling casually outside its shops half-dressed in Abercrombie, exposing my pale torso to the legions of young Abercrombie “fans” queuing up outside?
I reckon they would be round there with their chequebooks in a jiffy.