Abercrombie & Fitch Is To Japan As Oil Is To Water

Run, run for your lives! Cologne-doused, shirtless Abercrombie & Fitch models are coming after the people of Japan! While this may sound like the plot of a bad spoof movie, it’s not too far off from the truth. (OK, well, not quite.) Apparently, the retailer has set up its first outpost in Japan, and the culture clash has been unexpectedly–and hilariously–problematic. For starters, the staff is pretty much a replica of your local mall branch—meaning, English is the language of choice. And in a culture where subtlety and politesse is key, Abercrombie fails to assimilate, and really rubs customers the wrong way. Reports The Business of Fashion, “To make matters worse, many of the male staff members have their chests exposed. Sex appeal may be a big part of the brand’s charm in the United States, but this particular masculine ideal of a ‘ripped chest’ is completely out of sync with current Japanese fashion culture and the constant presence of half-naked men is off-putting to the Japanese customer — especially when crammed into tight spaces like elevators.”

In truth, we kind of get that. Fantasizing about being in the company of a shirtless, ripped guy is one thing. But actually trying to make a business transaction in the presence of one? Pretty awkward. What’s more is that the A&F branch has taken to giving the space a bath in men’s cologne and piping it through ventilators, which Hollister once tried with their NYC outlet when it opened. When that happened, we spent a couple weeks walking on the opposite side of the street the stench was strong.

Sounds like Abercrombie & Fitch has gone about their overseas expansion all wrong by literally suffocating the client. [Business Of Fashion]