Tuesday, March 02, 2004

America's most wanted

It started with the dementia that seems to result from a long haul flight. When we got back home from Boston a couple of years ago we started cleaning the house, despite the fact we hadn’t slept in over 24 hours. Well, the house wasn’t as clean as the 17th floor corner room we had at the Sheraton Hotel so we got the dustpan and brush out.

In September, when I picked Sara and Gareth up from the airport after their honeymoon I took them home and Sara began unpacking. She was missing something. Amongst the mountains of clothes they’d bought, her favourite Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie was missing. She began to well up as she tried to find that extra compartment in her suitcase. The one she knew she didn’t have. The one she hoped might contain the lost hoodie. When that didn’t materialise, of course, it was all about the bitch that cleaned their room and obviously stole it. It caused more heartache than was really necessary.

Vegas was an opportunity to replace the lost hoodie, Sara had done her homework, there were three Abercrombie and Fitchs (Fitchi?). We went to the one at The Forum shops in Caesars Palace. It was there, the hallowed hoodie, she bought it. Then the next day she bought another A&F hoodie. In fact, in the three days we must have gone into Abercrombie’s four or five times. On the plane there was a glamorous couple, she was willowy and model like he looked like a stylist from The Salon. Within a couple of hours of landing we saw them walking down The Strip, she was carrying an Abercrombie bag (they were also on the flight back – he was in an Abercrombie vest and Von Dutch truckers baseball cap, fer chrissakes).

An Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt, sweatshirt or hoodie is a badge of honour for a British twenty or thirty something. It’s the North American equivalent of a comedy Spanish sombrero available at all tacky beach shops on the Costa Del Sol.

It’s chic-ness derives from scarcity, that you can’t get A&F in the UK. To wear A&F you have to have travelled to the New World and that’s glamorous and cool and groovy. This is despite the fact that its urban chic style is largely indecipherable from Gap. It’s totally over branded, and its current range is absolutely diabolical focussing as they have on some kind of distressed, un-ironed preppie attire. Clearly the glamour of ‘merica is more seductive than the style it offers.


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