We’re more than used to celebrities (and we use the word in its loosest possible sense here) being paid by brands to endorse their clothing by being seen wearing it, but this week Abercrombie & Fitch turned that idea around, and offered an undisclosed amount of money to the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore to STOP wearing their clothes.
A&F are particularly concerned about the wardrobe of Mike “the Situation“ Sorrentino, but have extended the offer to the rest of the cast, too. An Abercrombie spokesman commented:
“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”
We can kind of see where Abercrombie is coming from with this. We’ve never seen Jersey Shore, so we can’t comment on that specifically, but TFP frequently gets press releases from PR companies saying, “Hey, look, here’s a photo a Katie Price wearing our clothes!” and we always think “And you’re actually asking us to TELL people about that?” Being seen on the “wrong” celebrity could probably damage a brand, in the same way that being seen on the right one can make their clothes start rushing off the shelves. (See Kate Middleton and the rising sales of sheer hose as an example.)
But still: it’s a free world. If you’re selling clothes, then you really have to accept that anyone can buy them, and some of the people who buy them may not look that great in them. In fact, a LOT of people won’t, because not everyone looks like a model or a celebrity. This is something Abercrombie & Fitch are presumably aware of, given that they’ve always been a bit precious about who’s seen wearing their clothes, and are famous for their policy of only hiring attractive people.
What about the rest of us, though? We don’t all look like models, and wouldn’t it be mortifying to be turned away from a store because they didn’t feel you were attractive enough to wear their clothes? There’s no suggestion of Abercrombie & Fitch extending their offer to people who DON’T have TV shows, of course, but we’re reminded of the time Christopher Kane said he didn’t want Victoria Beckham wearing his dresses, and sounded a bit up himself, to be totally honest.
MTV, meanwhile, think it’s all just a publicity stunt, anyway:
““It’s a clever PR stunt,” reads a statement on the MTV blog “and we’d love to work with them on other ways they can leverage Jersey Shore to reach the largest youth audience on television.” The statement continues, in suitably dramatic fashion:
“It pains us to have elicited concern that our talent’s choice of leisurewear would in any way harm A&F fans, but now we have our own concern: If the “Jersey Shore” cast should stop wearing the brand, does that mean those same fans–the ones who love nothing more than to curl up in their A&F sweats every Thursday night to watch their favorite show–should stop wearing it as well? Being pantless might cause them some real distress. Oh, Abercrombie, what kind of snowball hath y’all set in motion?”
There’s also a suggestion that this was an attempt by A&F to divert attention away from a huge drop in the value of their stock, which is interesting if true.
What do you think? Should Abercrombie get over themselves and stop pretending their logo-ridden sweatpants are the worn only by the world’s most sophisticated dressers, or is it fair enough for them to object to an association they don’t care for?
(We think it’s all a publicity stunt, by the way. And if A&F would like to take it further, The Fashion Police would be more than willing to be paid not to wear their clothes. A&F, call us!)