Abercrombie & Fitch once came under fire for its exclusionary “cool kid” image, but those days are long over.
In recent years, the iconic mall brand has fully embraced the body positivity movement, and its latest inclusive ad campaign is no exception.
The brand’s new "Face Your Fierce" campaign features a diverse cast of models, including professional athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, LGBTQ activists, and other inspiring figures.
Soccer star and LGBTQ advocate Megan Rapinoe and Paralympic gold medalist Scout Bassett both posed for fierce, empowering photos.
Model Michael Robert McCauley also appeared in the campaign, and he shared what it meant to him to see his body type celebrated by A&F.
“Brands are finally waking up to what their customers ACTUALLY want and I’m honored to be at the front of this movement working with Abercrombie as we lead the industry for change,” he wrote on Instagram. “People want to see REAL people in the clothes they’re buying and I think most people can relate to guys like me. This isn’t a fashion statement. Beefy dudes are here to stay!”
Transgender model and activist Leyna Bloom also took part in the campaign, as did performer Fernando Casablancas and body positivity influencer Halle Hathaway.
“Throughout the year-long campaign, cast members will share their experiences of body positivity, self-empowerment, determination, LGBTQ+ equality, gender equality, overcoming obstacles, and more, all to inspire customers to explore the unexpected and emotional aspects of inner strength,” the brand said in a statement.
Abercrombie & Fitch has dramatically transformed its image in recent years. Back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, their ads usually featured a very specific type of model: thin, toned and tan, with California surfer vibes.
Store employees were expected to conform to the same look, former CEO Mike Jeffries said in a 2006 interview with Salon.
“We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people,” he said. “We don't market to anyone other than that."
He also faced backlash when he bluntly stated his views on who did and didn’t belong in A&F clothing.
"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he says. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either."
Abercrombie & Fitch subsequently apologized for his remarks. Jeffries left the company in 2014 and since then, the company has transformed its image and marketing.
Last January, Abercrombie & Fitch relaunched its Fierce fragrance with a similar campaign celebrating people with diverse body types. The inclusive campaign was a major success and contributed to the fragrance’s best comparable sales in over five years, the company said.
The brand is hoping to continue this trend with its latest inclusive campaign.
“Our goal is to inspire our customers to feel confident, be comfortable and face their Fierce,” Kristin Scott, president of global brands at A&F, said in a release. “Face Your Fierce speaks to our values of authenticity, self-love, perseverance, and ultimately, the countless expressions of Fierceness our customers embody.”