Dear Mr. Abercrombie & Fitch,
Nobody likes you anymore.
You messed up. You said that you only want the cool kids wearing your brand. You don’t want to sell clothes to anybody who doesn’t fit your ideal of sexiness. You said some dumb stuff, and now your image is hurting.
Now there’s a video going around the internet where some dude is giving a bunch of your clothes to homeless people, just to stick it to you and your exclusive ideas of “coolness”. (Just between you and me, I’m appalled at the self-righteousness of that particular video – not to mention the objectification of “the homeless” which is as offensive as anything you’ve ever said. But that’s not what I want to talk about.)
Listen – I think maybe we’re all being a bit hard on you. Not that what you said wasn’t desipicable – it was. But if I’m honest with myself, I’ve thought the same things before. I think many of us have.
You’re holding up a mirror, forcing ourselves to look. And we don’t like what we see.
Like you, I’ve judged people simply by their clothing:
“Look at those nerds! Don’t they know you don’t wear tube socks with dress slacks?”
“Look at those dude-bros! Probably off to pop their collars and chug some beer at the frat!”
“Look at that youth pastor! He thinks he’s relevant just because he has skinny jeans and a soul patch!”
“Look at those hipsters! So obnoxious, with their thrift store clothes and ironic tattoos.”
“Look at that redneck! With his tore-off sleeves and cowboy boots. What a hick!”
As you said, some people are cool and some people are not. All too often, I allow myself to believe this. And with a glace, I judge them.
So while so many people on the internet are raging against your stupidity, I can’t bring myself to point a finger. Because, if I’m honest, I’d have to point at myself too. I’d have to point a finger at the system that I live in, that I support, that often defines me.
Maybe the reason we’re all so angry at you is because you were honest about the premise at the heart of our consumerism.
See, it was never about the clothes. It’s about identity.
Our clothes are so much more than fabric and buttons and zippers and embroidered moose. Our clothes are shells we drape over our fragile insecurities, masks we change and exchange until we find acceptance.
You were selling “cool”, and despite all our protests we want to buy it.
We want to exchange a fistfull of dollars for a lable that says we’re good enough, that we matter, that we’re in. Maybe we don’t want to buy it from you, but it’s what we’re all looking for. In tailored shirts and clever beards and flashy shoes and unique tattoos and perfect jeans and loud motorcycles and big houses and bright TV’s and furniture and watches and jewelry and cars.
If I look better (or even just different) than the hipsters and the nerds and the rednecks and the bros, maybe I can convince myself that I am better than them. That I’m unique. That I’m special.
At the heart of my consumerism is a burning desire to somehow purchase the value I so desperately crave.
For the sake of everyone that has ever felt marginalized, excluded, or uncool, I wish I could make you eat your words. I wish I could denounce you with righteous indignation. For being so insensitive, so discriminatory, so crassly materialistic. But I can’t. Because if I’m willing to look in the mirror you’re holding up, I’m forced to admit to myself that I’m not as different from you as I’d like to think.
But maybe all of us can learn to see each other better. Maybe we can see each other not as mannequins whose only value is derived from the clothes we wear, but as brothers and sisters who are beautiful and valuable and loved no matter what.
Wouldn’t that be “cool”?
[ image: anfnewsnow ]
published May 16, 2013
subscribe to updates:
(it's pretty much the only way to stay in touch with me these days)