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HomeLaura PerrinsAbercrombie & Fitch and a rather predictable sex scandal

Abercrombie & Fitch and a rather predictable sex scandal


IN NEWS that should not surprise anyone, the clothing firm Abercrombie & Fitch have launched an investigation into sexual misconduct claims against their former CEO Mike Jeffries.

This is yet another story of an alleged sex pest ‘hiding in plain sight’. Only they were never hiding. Certain things should have been a give-away. For instance, if your entire business plan for shifting garments to teenagers involves not only having huge advertisements featuring half-naked men in your stores but also employing real-life half-naked men in your stores, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the person behind that plan might turn out to be a sex pest. Allegedly.

Says the BBC: ‘Mike Jeffries has been accused of exploiting men at sex events he hosted around the world. A BBC investigation found an organised network used a middleman to recruit young adult men for the events with Mr Jeffries and his partner Matthew Smith, with some alleging they were abused.’ Well, knock me down with a feather, who could have guessed!

Let me tell you a little bit about Abercrombie & Fitch, an American firm which spread into the UK, and Mike Jeffries. You may not remember A&F from the 90s, the glorious 90s, but I certainly do. Even growing up in Ireland, because of the power of Americana, and the fact that I worked in the US for a summer, I can confirm that A&F were huge. It’s worth watching the Netflix documentary White Hot  to get a feel of just how powerfully this brand exploded into the culture. They were the Friends of Teenagers clothing brand, combining the sex appeal of Calvin Klein with the preppy look of Ralph Lauren.

Why should we care about all this? I will tell you why – because A&F were directly responsible for the steady but thorough pornification of our society and the gradual degradation of pop culture. And they were aided and abetted as usual by the mainstream media.

The stores employed half-naked men as sales assistants, although they rarely assisted you with anything. It was standard for their male assistants to be wearing only jeans. The A&F quarterly catalogue was soft porn/erotic featuring lots of nudity and group nudity. A&F also sold thongs in children’s sizes with phrases such as ‘eye candy’ and ‘wink wink’ on them. Now this stuff was planted right in front of very young teenagers, and mothers with their kids had to battle into the stores past these half-naked blokes. And the only ones who objected at the time were the ‘American Christian right.’

You member the American Christian right? So easy to dismiss and mock. There they were with their Bibles, getting hot and bothered about something or other, usually the pornification of our society. Why couldn’t they just loosen up and get with the agenda? And the agenda here is to sexualise the youth.

Many of the protesters against A&F were genuinely grass roots; mothers and grandmothers who didn’t want this stuff pushed on their kids.  

This piece, from October 2001 from Baptist Press, tells us that ‘a popular Christian rock band’s decision to partner with Abercrombie & Fitch has drawn criticism from conservative family values groups who accuse the worldwide retail chain of promoting pornography’.

The rather fabulously titled American Decency Association pursued a long-running campaign against the soft porn-pushing A&F. 

So you can imagine my surprise when the allegations of sexual misconduct against the mastermind behind all this stuff came out. What a shock!

The left-wing media didn’t care about the sexualising of the kids. I mean, they didn’t care about Bill Clinton getting Monica Lewinsky to perform sex acts on him in the Oval Office, so clearly they weren’t going to care about this either. They never cared about the concerns of those old prudes somewhere in flyover country, until the Christian Right voted for Trump. That got the attention of the media all right – but I digress!

This rather sniffy 2003 piece from the New York Times sums it up:  ‘Given the same creative team that produced the [old] quarterly is doing the [new] catalogue, it is worth asking how different that imagery is likely to be. “There will probably still be kissing and beautiful bodies,” said a person familiar with the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity. “There just probably won’t be themes,” [like three-way sex].’  

The left-wing media ignored the porn pushing. A&F fell out of favour with the media only once they started producing racist T-shirts and their discriminatory hiring practices were exposed. A&F and their all-white porn culture was not ‘inclusive and diverse’, so that was enough to damn them in the eyes of the left.

I think the Christian right are owed an apology. They were often described as being either sexually repressed or alternatively being obsessed with sex, because objecting to the sexualisation of your kids makes you the one obsessed with sex – a classic case of gaslighting right there. It turns out the ones pushing the sex were actually sex-obsessed, not the Catholic mom shopping in the mall with her teenage daughter.

The BBC report again: ‘The BBC has now uncovered allegations that the fashion mogul Mike Jeffries exploited young adult men for sex at events he hosted in his New York residences and luxurious hotels around the world, including in London, Paris, Venice, and Marrakesh. As part of a two-year investigation, the BBC has spoken to 12 men who described attending or organising events involving sex acts run for Mr Jeffries, 79, and his British partner Mr Smith, 60, between 2009 and 2015 . . . Men who attended these events told the BBC that Mike Jeffries and Matthew Smith would engage in sexual activity with about four men or “direct” them to have sex with each other. Afterwards, the men said, staff at the event handed them envelopes filled with thousands of dollars in cash.’

You get the picture; you can watch the BBC Panorama documentary if you wish. 

As I said about the Russell Brand allegations, it makes you wonder what allegations the media are sitting on at this very moment, only to ‘reveal’ them to us when the alleged wrongdoer is no longer useful.

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