Engaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

The End Of Brands? Abercrombie & Fitch To Drop Logo From Clothing

Preppie clothing store chain Abercrombie & Fitch, with 843 stores in the United States and 163 stores in the rest of the world, is making a dramatic change based on customer response. In a move that took me by surprise, they’ve announced they will eliminate identifying branding logo marks on their Spring 2015 clothing collection.

Much of the reason seems to be this generation of younger customers. Unlike teens and twenty-somethings of the last few decades, young people today are trying to be more unique. Rather than blindly sporting logos from Ralph Lauren, A&F, Hilfiger, Hollister, and others they’re mixing and matching their own looks and creating customized combinations – without designer logos.

What do you think?  Is it a mistake?  Is it a relief?  Personally, I could not be more thrilled. Instead of continuing the tradition of mindless zombies finding their identity in a corporate brand, perhaps this generation is more independent than many people thought.

What do you think?  And what does it mean for branding churches, nonprofits, and other organizations?  

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  1. I think it is a good idea. Some brands just don’t have that good of a reputation or live on their past. I seldom wear clothes with high class names anyway. My jeans are Wranglers. I wear SuperHero T-shirts (yeah a brand). I also wear shirts that fit and look nice and don’t care if they are from WM or Target. What does it mean for the church? Jury is out I think. What will that mean for a logo? What will that mean for a printed mission or vision statement? Hmmm.

  2. One of the things I liked to do before I retired, was to spend time with the young engineers fresh out of the universities. I’d help them find their way around the system but they would help me stay current on all kinds of things. The main take-away that came from those sessions for me was hope in my heart. I could see they had just as much, if not more, of a fire in their hearts to learn, grow and seek truth, as me.

    This new marketing plan reinforces what I experienced during those sessions. There are young people today that are independent thinkers and just as hungry for truth as we older folks think we are, despite the world’s current razzmatazz trying to distract us from having hope.

    Being aware of this positive trend can be useful if that awareness helps us, or encourages us to do our part for the Kingdom of God.

    Thanks for sharing this information with us Phil.

  3. A mixed bag:
    Relief because that branding has always seemed annoying.
    Mistake because I will no longer be able to tell what is overpriced by the logo on the clothing. 🙂

  4. Enormous jump in logic to talk about “the end of brands” because one clothing brand made this specific decision. Even if they don’t emblazon their logo on every article, they will still be a well-known brand (and in fact it sounds like they are just redirecting their brand in a new way). Hugo Boss, Armani, and YSL are well-known brands of men’s suits, but it’s not like you’ll find their logo in six-inch letters across the lapels.

    Brands are far more than a logo. I am completely loyal to New Balance shoes, not because of the logo on the shoe, but because of the consistent fit and durability. I am loyal to other brands where you can’t even see a logo on the product because of the brand itself, not the logo.

    Then again, personally I never understood why people wanted to advertise A&F or Gap or Old Navy on their chests. I understand wanting to associate with and promote things that are meaningful to you (like Pepperdine University or the Pittsburgh Steelers for me), but what makes Gap actually meaningful to a person?

  5. Perhaps you’re not aware of the CEO’s “journey” over the last few years, Phil?

    Mike Jeffries is perhaps most infamous for his “no fat chicks” philosophy which results in nothing for women above size 10 in A&F (larger sizes are available for males so that athletic-builds can wear them). His comments regarding the stores’ target: “In every school, there are the cool and popular kids, and, then, there are
    the not-so-cool kids; candidly, we go after the
    cool kids. We go after the attractive, all-American kid with a great
    attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” That didn’t sit too well as we moved into this “civic”/collectivist era, and, combined with possible fashion missteps and kids’ higher cell phone bills, A&F became just about the most UNcool place a kid could go.

    Between his professional and personal antics, Jeffries came to be labelled “the worst CEO in the country,” lost the chairmanship of the company, and had to fight to keep his CEO role. A decent primer on him can be found in Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Jeffries_(CEO)

    Now, you’re right, Phil, that there’s a trend toward unlabelled/unlogoed things, but the vast majority of the analyst commentary I’ve heard about the A&F move said that it’s a seemingly desperate attempt to give people who would still conceivably shop there and wear the clothes a way to do so without having to “admit” it or have the logo betray them.

    1. I HAVE been aware of that story. Worse from my perspective has been the explicit advertising – in my opinion about as close to porn as you can get, and totally inappropriate for the target audience. But regarding the CEO issues, I really doubt that’s the reason for dumping the logo. I’ll bet if you did a national survey of A&E customers, a very small minority would know anything about the CEO.

  6. I hadn’t heard this but I’m glad companies are finding more creative ways to showcase their brand value other than slapping their logo all over their products. Let consumers speak on behalf of your brand because of what it means to them. Brands are a lifestyle not a logo.

  7. I have a “Hamburger Helper” shirt…the happy oven mitt character. LOL…It gets rave reviews in public…it’s unique. (Only one I’ve ever seen.) And folks can relate. A&F has neither quality. Trapper’s comments (see below) are spot on.

    It’s the dawn of the 1st Church of Hamburger Helper…as the sun wanes on the Priests of Polo Palace. Acts 2…

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