A&F Quarterly

A&F Quarterly

Abercrombie & Fitch publication
name = A&F Quarterly


type = Magalog
creator = Mike Jeffries
editor-in-chief = Savas Abadsidis
creative director = Sam Shahid
produced by = Shahid & Company, New York
photographer = Bruce Weber
first publication = Fall 1997
years active = 6 years (1997–2003, 2008– )
contents = Magazine/catalog
Special articles
Photo essays by Bruce Weber

"A&F Quarterly" is an American magazine/catalog hybrid periodical (or "magalog") [Laura Bird, "Advertising Beyond Mail Order: Catalogs Now Sell Image, Advice," "Wall Street Journal", July 29, 1997, Eastern ed., p. B1.] by lifestyle retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. First published from 1997 [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=mi&vol=appeals%5C021502%5C13955&invol=2 "Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. v. American Eagle Outfitters, Inc."] , 280 F.3d 619 (6th Cir. 2002).] until 2003 – when it was retired after an array of controversiesDavid Carr, [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940CE7DC123CF937A25751C1A9659C8B63 "It's a Magazine. It's a Catalog. It's Both."] , "New York Times", December 14, 2003, late ed., section 4, p. 2.] – the periodical was relaunched in 2008 for a European audience.

It contains matters of collegiate-age interest and photography from Bruce Weber. Deemed by multiple critics as "soft porn" and racy (the 1997–2003 American version), many lawsuits and boycotts followed focusing on moral and religious grounds. Organizations that protested against the periodical include the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, the American Decency Association, and the Focus on the Family organization. Circulation reached a peak of 1.2 million.

No issues were distributed during the Christmas season following the September 11, 2001 attacks, because the company felt the tone of the publication was not suitable for the mood at that time. [Stuart Elliott, [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9807E1DE173EF934A25753C1A9679C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all Bowing to Nation's Mood, Retailer Cancels Issue of Racy Catalog] , "New York Times", October 17, 2001.] Advertisements for the "Quarterly" appeared in publications such as "Interview", "Out", "Rolling Stone", and "Vanity Fair". The "Quarterly" had a distribution of about 200,000 copies through sales in Abercrombie & Fitch stores (at US$6.00 a copy) and subscriptions ($12.00 USD a year).

American version, 1997–2003

Content

"A&F Quarterly" was initially launched by Abercrombie & Fitch in June 1997 for American consumers and was released in a seasonal quarterly fashion four times a year, once for every "Spring Break", "Summer", "Back-to-School", and "Christmas" fashion season. The company collaborated with prominent figures in the fashion marketing world: Savas Abadsidis, Sam Shahid, and Bruce Weber. Weber had been recognized before for his erotic chiseled-male photography, and Shahid was notable for his Calvin Klein campaigns ranging from Brooke Shields' "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins" to Banana Republic's "Free Souls" campaign. The two had previously worked together at Calvin Klein. For the "Quarterly", Abadsidis served as editor-in-chief, Shahid as creative director, and Weber as exclusive photographer.

Abercrombie & Fitch called the "Quarterly" a "magalog" for its purpose of serving as both a catalogue and magazine for the A&F brand. The "Quarterly" was meant to further establish the image of A&F, synonymous with sex and youth. It featured articles written for 18-22–year–olds (advice on sex, interviews with porn stars, and alcohol recipes), photo essays by Weber (splashed with nudity and erotic heterosexual/homosexual poses), and advertisements for the company's clothing.

Controversy

American Eagle lawsuit

In June 1998, Abercrombie & Fitch filed a lawsuit against rival clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, alleging that "AE impermissibly copied the designs of certain articles of clothing, in-store advertising displays, and a catalog ["A&F Quarterly"] ." In July 1999, the court granted American Eagle's motion for summary judgment in its favor.

According to A&F's initial complaint, the company identifies "A&F Quarterly" as one of its "unique and inherently distinctive features"

: the creation of a cutting edge "cool" image through photographs and advertising and promotional material, such as the A&F Quarterly (the "catalog" or "Quarterly"). The "Quarterly" presents the Abercrombie brand and trade dress in a unique manner: namely, it features the Abercrombie brand and trade dress in a "cutout" or "clothesline" style [as opposed to only depicting models wearing its apparel] and uses color bars to illustrate the available colors of the item, while combining a consistent conceptual theme with a lifestyle editorial content of music, electronics, books, and magazine features. The catalog is printed on cougar vellum paper, which is unique for a catalog.

The district court ruled that what A&F described as its distinctive trade dress was (in the words of the appellate court) "too generic and descriptive" to warrant protection under the Lanham Act. A&F appealed this judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which again ruled for American Eagle. The court stated that "Abercrombie's clothing designs and in-store presentations are legally functional non-protectable trade dress and that Abercrombie could not possibly have carried its burden of proving that American's catalog was confusingly similar to what we have presumed is the protectable trade dress of Abercrombie's "Quarterly"."

The Court of Appeals, in the course of comparing the two stores' catalogs, described the "Quarterly" as follows:

: Abercrombie uses grainy images of exceptionally fit and attractive young people in outdoor (often collegiate) settings, alone and in groups, wearing more or less A&F clothing in ways that convey their allegiance to the brand while also seemingly attempting to create a sexual mystique about the wearer....Throughout the Quarterly, A&F makes extensive use of photographs depicting apparently college-aged people in often erotic or homoerotic poses or situations wearing clothes with A&F logos displayed more or less prominently. A&F works with noted fashion photographer Bruce Weber, whose style is well-known in the industry and recognizable by even the uninitiated.

The court concluded that although the above characteristics distinguished the "Quarterly" from AE's catalog,

: No rational trier of fact could conclude that the overall appearances created by the configuration of the two catalogs are similar....There is so little danger of a consumer picking up the two catalogs and not quickly realizing that they emanate from different sources that judgment as a matter of law for American Eagle is appropriate.

Protests and concerns

Mothers Against Drunk Driving spoke out against the "Quarterly" after its 1998 "Back-to-School" issue featured alcoholic drink recipes (with names such as "Brain Hemorrhage") and instructions for a drinking game.Carl Quintanilla, "Du-ude! Clothier's Catalog Sells Students on Drinking," "Wall Street Journal", July 24, 1998, Eastern ed., p. B1.] The Center for Science in the Public Interest also protested the "Drinking 101" promotion, [http://abercrombieboycott.com/thefullstory.aspx The Full Story] , "Abercrombie Boycott: Taking a Stand for Decency". Retrieved on May 4, 2008.] which advised: "Rather than the standard beer binge, indulge in some creative drinking this semester." The article included recipes for ten mixed drinks and a spinner featuring pictures of each drink, intended to be used in various drinking games. Abercrombie & Fitch ordered the drinking game pages removed from its stores' remaining copies and sent apology letters to its subscribers. [Associated Press via "Lubbock Avalanche-Journal", [http://lubbockonline.com/stories/072598/LA0705.002.shtml Abercrombie catalog full of party recipes] , July 25, 1998. Retrieved on May 4, 2008.]

In 1999, Illinois lieutenant governor Corinne Wood called for a consumer boycott of Abercrombie & Fitch because of the sexually explicit nature of the "Quarterly"'s "Naughty or Nice" holiday issue, which included nude photographs and an interview with porn star Jenna Jameson. Among the images that stirred controversy was a picture of Santa and Mrs. Claus engaging in sadomasochistic behavior across the page from the statement, "Sometimes it's good to be bad." The Illinois Coalition of Sexual Assault assisted the boycott. That same year, Michigan attorney general (and later governor) Jennifer Granholm sent a letter to the company complaining that the holiday catalog contained sexual material that could not be distributed to minors under Michigan law. The catalog featured an A&F "sexpert" who offered advice on "sex for three" and told readers willing to "go down" on a date at the movies that it was acceptable, "just so long as you do not disturb those around you." Four states threatened legal action over the issue.

In 2001, cultural conservatives and anti-porn feminists called for a boycott of A&F over the Summer 2001 issue of "A&F Quarterly", which included photographs of naked or near-naked young people frolicking on the beach. The images also included top-naked young woman and rear-naked young men on top of each other. The head of Concerned Christians of America said, "The exploitation of sex and young people in A&F's catalog is not only atrocious but also a psychological molestation of their teen-age customers." The National Organization for Women criticized the catalog for promoting "unrealistic body types" and displaying images that simulate group sex. The catalog included an interview with porn star Ron Jeremy, who discussed performing oral sex on himself and using a dildo cast from his own penis.

Out-of-company advertisements

Shahid stated that A&F had been thinking about providing commercial space in "A&F Quarterly" for a long time. The company finally made four spreads available in the Summer 2002 issue, which were bought by Sony Computer Entertainment (for the PlayStation 2 video game console), SoBe, The WB Television Network (promoting "Smallville", which starred previous A&F model Tom Welling), and Trek Bicycle Corporation. Spokesmen for WB told "The New York Times" that they found it intriguing and took the ad space because A&F assured they would be the only television advertiser. Spokeswomen for SoBe called the "Quarterly" a "good fit" because SoBe targets the same age group as A&F. [cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F03E3D71331F930A35756C0A9649C8B63&pagewanted=all|title=Come hither: Abercrombie & Fitch invites other advertisers into its A&F Quarterly|last=Elliott|first=Stuart|work=New York Times|accessdate=2008-04-30]

Discontinuation and absence, 2004–2008

After the release of the 280-page "A&F Quarterly: Christmas Field Guide" Christmas 2003 issue, the "Quarterly" generated strong protest from religious organizations and women's rights activists. The cover of the issue promoted ice hockey and group sex while inside features discussed tips for oral sex and displayed images of group sex and nude young adults frolicking in a river. On December 9, 2003, Abercrombie & Fitch announced its decision to withdraw the issue and to end the publication, stating that the Christmas issue would be its last.cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950CE2D71F3DF933A25751C1A9659C8B63&scp=5&sq=A%26F+Quarterly&st=nyt|title=Abercrombie & Fitch to End Its Racy Magazine|work=New York Times|date=2003-12-10|accessdate=2008-04-30] cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B04E0DE113CF935A25751C1A9659C8B63&scp=6&sq=A%26F+Quarterly&st=nyt|work=New York Times|title=Abercrombie Again Picks Racy Team|first=Guy|last=Trebay|date=2003-12-16|accessdate=2008-06-05] A company spokesperson said that "we just felt it was time to retire it and come back with something that has beautiful imagery and classical photos." A statement from the company said that "while it has enjoyed success with the quarterly over the years, the company believes it is time for new thinking and looks forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign in the spring."

Following the statement, shelves were cleared off for a new fragrance line. Chairman and CEO of A&F Mike Jeffries stated he ended the "Quarterly" because he was "bored" with it. (In October, A&F—not knowing it would discontinue the "Quarterly"—had completed shooting in October in Rome for its Spring 2004 "Quarterly".)

The removal of "A&F Quarterly" from the marketplace did not change the contempt with which some community-focused groups viewed Abercrombie & Fitch. Phil Burress – president of Citizens for Community Values, which posted an advertisement in the "Wall Street Journal" to question if A&F investors really knew what they were investing in – commented that "they [Abercrombie & Fitch] have a track record of sexual exploitation and there are many different ways to continue that campaign." Copies of the "Quarterly" became highly sought after. On eBay, a single copy received a bid of US$122.50 after just four hours and thirty minutes on auction. In 2004, the defunct publication was replaced with "A&F Magazine", a tame collection of photos and essays about rising young celebrities. This magazine, having been far less popular than the "Quarterly", was soon discontinued, and for a time the company published a seasonal catalog.

Revival in Europe

Background and anticipation

In 2008, Abercrombie & Fitch announced its anticipated 2008 relaunch of the "A&F Quarterly". This incarnation, however, would be exclusively for the European market, specifically for the UK – where, A&F hoped, consumers would be more open-minded than Americans.cite web|url=http://www.styledash.com/2008/01/03/abercrombies-soft-core-porn-catalog-is-coming-back/|title=Abercrombie & Fitch's soft-core porn catalog is coming back|work=Styledash|last=Morgan|first=Jonathon|date=2008-01-03|accessdate=2008-06-05] cite web|url=http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-fashion-retailer-sexes-up-the-teen-market-768496.html|title=US fashion retailer sexes up the teen market|work=The Independent|first=Susie|last=Mesure|date=2008-01-06|accessdate=2008-06-05] cite web|url=http://www.fashionweekdaily.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=520197|title=Renaissance Mag: Abercrombie & Fitch's A&F Quarterly is reborn|publisher=Fashion Week|last=Shi|first=Jim|date=2008-01-02|accessdate=2008-06-05] The company planned a release in Marchcite web|url=http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/business/stories/2008/01/12/AF_magazine.ART_ART_01-12-08_C10_3G91L7T.html|title=Abercrombie catalog reborn for Europe|work=The Columbus Dispatch|last=Saunders|first=Amy|date=2008-01-12|accessdate=2008-06-05] or April 2008 in the A&F London flagship store – just over 12 months after the opening of the first European location, located at 7 Burlington Gardens in the shopping district of Savile Row).

Recalling the controversial years of the "Quarterly", Claude Knight, director of the charity Kidscape, stated that "unless the 2008 version takes the fate of its predecessor into account, we will not hesitate to raise grave concerns [about] a racy magazine aimed at teenagers and featuring sexually explicit content." The deputy executive of 4Children warned that careless promoting of sexual images and alcohol drinking could leave great consequences, especially in the UK, where there is "a high drinking culture and there are links between the use of alcohol and sex that is later regretted." Saying that the revamped "Quarterly" will stick to a "similar theme," company representative for Abercrombie & Fitch stated that "it will be unique and will definitely to grab people's attention." It was made official that the original creative team behind the American "A&F Quarterly" (including Shahid and Weber) would reunite for the publication's revival in London.

Tom Lennox, vice president of corporate communications for Abercrombie & Fitch, stated, "We have chosen to bring the "A&F Quarterly" to the UK because our London flagship has been a phenomenal success and we were looking for something which we felt would appeal to the British open-minded approach to culture and creativity. The new "A&F Quarterly" will be bold, confident, beautiful and very sexy." The new European version was to be "more mature" than the previous editions in the United States where, Lennox says, it will no longer be sold because it "has run its course" in America. Lennox said it would be more of a "sophisticated, intellectual approach" providing a "global perspective, which is what the 20-year-old is all about." He commented that the "Quarterly" will be fun and may be found "controversial to some". Weber's photography will remain; featured topics will include travel, dinning, and trendy neighborhoods, with some articles written by Tyler Brule (founder of the fashion, art, and travel magazine "Wallpaper*"). A UK£100 price and a massive customer turnout was expected at the flagship store over the returning publication.cite web|url=http://www.catwalkqueen.tv/2008/04/its_magalogue_t.html|title=It's magalogue time: Abercrombie & Fitch's racy A&F Quarterly relaunches in UK|author=Kimberley Foster|work=Catwalk Queen|publisher=Shiny Media|date=2008-04-01|accessdate=2008-06-05] cite web|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/13/style/rmag.php|title=Branding the magazine world|work=IHT|last=Britten|first=Fleur|date=2008-02-13|accessdate=2008-06-05] Market analysis revealed that the relaunch of the "Quarterly" in Europe came at an opportune time for the company, because tolerance for less-regulated publications is higher there, and the demand for the Abercrombie & Fitch brand is high and on the rise (hence the company's international expansion in Europe).

"Return to Paradise"

On April 5, 2008, Abercrombie & Fitch in Savile Row released the first "A&F Quarterly" in three years. Titled "Return to Paradise", the limited edition issue (only 500 copies were printed) features "hyper-sexy" semi-nude images by Bruce Weber.cite web|url=http://www.vogue.co.uk/vogue_daily/story/story.asp?stid=51814|title=Quarterly Excitement|work=Vogue.com|date=2008-04-03|publisher=CondéNetUK|first=Leissa|last=Barnett|accessdate=2008-04-30] The hardcover issue is "lavishly bound", in a manner similar to the "The Improper Bohemians" (a photography book created by Weber for A&F's RUEHL No.925 brand). Its official price is UK£50 (US$79.50);cite web|url=http://abercrombieandfitchmodels.blogspot.com/2008/04/quarterly-return-to-paradise.html|title=A&F Quarterly - Return to Paradise|work=Abercrombie Models Welcome Gilly Hicks Sydney|date=2008-04-06|accessdate=2008-04-30] a copy was sold on eBay for UK£249.99 (about US$493.88).cite web|url=http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&Item=360043298593|title=Abercrombie & Fitch A&F Quarterly.Bruce Weber.UK Ltd Ed|publisher=eBay|accessdate=2008-05-24]

Images within resemble artistic depictions of the Garden of Eden, with models posing with and around exotic flora. One image depicts a nude male and female resembling Adam and Eve beholding a bitten apple (the forbidden fruit). Many of the images were previously used in the Spring 2008 marketing campaign.

The company set strict measures to regulate whom the issue is sold to. Demand for the edition, a worldwide exclusive, was high throughout the season.

ee also

* Nudity in art
* Sex in advertising

References

External links

* Dan Reines, " [http://www.nerve.com/regulars/quickies/abercrombieindex/ The Abercrombie & Fitch Catalog Index] ," "Nerve", June 11, 2002.


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