February 20th, 2014
New York has an interesting piece on Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch (which might be the only mainstream clothing retailer from whom I’ve never purchased anything). Here’s how the piece starts. Stay with me, because I’m doing a long quote with all the atmospherics for a reason:
The corporate headquarters of Abercrombie & Fitch, one of the largest apparel retailers in the world, spills across 500 acres of dense Ohio woodland, about fifteen miles from downtown Columbus. From the outside, the central office cluster resembles an Adirondack lodge as envisioned by a Brutalist—all hard lines and weather-beaten wood. Meals are served in a barn finished in rusted steel, and in the summer, companywide meetings are held in an exposed-concrete courtyard in front of a large fireplace.
Officially, the complex is the work of Ross Anderson of the New York firm Anderson Architects, but it clearly bears the fingerprints of Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie’s famously autocratic CEO. Jeffries, Anderson has said, “wanted to make sure the architecture and the brand both spoke in the same voice. They share the same DNA. Each reinforces the other.” To enter Abercrombie headquarters is to travel back in time to the world portrayed in the iconic catalogues of the late nineties—everyone is young, good-looking, and, despite the harsh Ohio winters, exceptionally tan. A miasma of Fierce cologne hangs in the air, and pulsating pop echoes through the corridors.
Jeffries, who at 69 years old still has the blond hair of an Abercrombie model—“Dude, I’m not an old fart,” he has said of the dye job—works on the second floor in an airy, sun-splashed conference room. He typically receives guests in his standard uniform: an Abercrombie polo shirt, artfully distressed jeans, and a pair of old flip-flops.
That’s a great lede, yes? Fine work. Though I was then surprised to read (much) further down:
(Abercrombie representatives declined to make Jeffries available for interviews.)
This isn’t wholly incompatible with the lede. When you go back to it, the “has” and the “typically” in the third graph do stick out.
“Mike Jeffries has a cold.”
I’m stunned you’ve never bought anything from A&F. When I was young it was the brand for young fogies like me who liked British Empire chic. Its amazing transformation into a purveyor of clothes that make you look cheap and porn producer did not occur until at least the 90’s.