Back in my formative years, I worked at the Hollister in my local mall, and would occasionally pick up shifts at Abercrombie & Fitch. Both positions were highly coveted by the Abercrombie-wearing crowd I went to high school with, and whenever I got picked to work in the front room, that was a big deal. It was rumored that pretty people were picked to work the front room, and regardless of whether or not that was a lie, it felt pretty nice to be included among them. Years later, I realized how flawed that logic was, especially upon hearing news that many employees were designated to the stock rooms based on their appearances. These employees filed lawsuits against the stores, and rightfully so.
I worked in those stores probably a decade ago at this point, and the clothes very much reflected the era—low-slung jeans paired with either a logo tee, or a low-cut graphic option showcasing a fake business with veiled sexism worked into the text. We were required to go around with a bottle of the brand's male fragrance in both stores, and spray down the premises every 30 minutes. It always triggered a headache for me, my mother would comment on how insane I smelled every time I got into her car after a shift, and even a decade removed, I'll still get flashbacks of being catcalled in the front room by dudes who would proceed to mess up my entire jean wall.
VIDEO: Abercrombie & Fitch Is Ditching Clothes With the Logo
Both brands haven't had the best rep in recent years—even before I worked there, those aforementioned graphic tees came under fire for showcasing jokes based around Asian stereotypes, and that was only the first in the controversies surrounding said tees in the years to come. Former CEO Mike Jeffries made gross comments about how a lot of people can't wear the clothes, and therefore don't belong in them, then ultimately stepped down in 2014. The brand has seemingly cleaned up their act since then, ditching the standard logo tees and replacing their old campaigns with a more diverse range of models. To that point, A&F's upcoming unisex scents serve as a small, yet important, step in the right direction for progress.
Launching this Friday, A&F is rolling out a trio of scents that can be worn by any gender, aiming to be in-tune with a more inclusive approach to gender expression. The packaging is surprisingly pretty chic—when a bottle landed on my desk, I was pretty surprised to learn that the scent was by A&F, and the juice housed within each vessel is a far cry from the bottle of Fierce I once had to spray around the store twice every hour.
Ellwood is a musk-based scent with a clean citrus twist, and will replace the Fierce as the in-store fragrance. Ryder is a slightly headier aroma, mixing amber with cedar wood notes, while Hempstead is heavy on the vetiver, making for a lemongrass-esque scent tempered by a hint of cypress. The scents will arrive online at abercrombie.com and in-store starting on Friday, priced at $68 a pop.