The U.S. fashion firm Abercrombie & Fitch, which has been blasted for its
use of sex and shock is going to Britain this week.
The retailer will open its first UK store in London on Thursday with many
others to follow.
The company is announcing its arrival with advertisements
showing a rear view of a male model, whose trousers are so low they reveal a
However, this is tame for a firm which has scandalised middle America for
more than a decade with its 'sex and shocking' approach to fashion.
Ironically, the A&F range is relatively modest in terms of its design
compared to British street style.
The rather conservative mix of khaki trousers and T-shirts is considered
something of a uniform by a certain breed of middle-class young American men.
The company has become notorious for its highly sexual catalogue, featuring
near naked women draped over various male models wearing items from its stores.
Indeed, the company's catalogues are so shocking it has felt it necessary to
put them in sealed plastic covers, much like top shelf magazines, to protect the
eyes of the innocent.
The company has frequently caused anger by graphic sexual displays in its
advertising, including showing Father Christmas in sadomasochistic poses with
The brand's style icons include the likes of Justin Timberlake.
In 2002 it was forced to scrap a line of T-shirts after they triggered
protests from Asians who complained they perpetuated racist caricatures.
In 2003, former employees filed a lawsuit alleging that the retailer - whose
image is upper-crust and Anglo-Saxon - would not hire non-white salespeople.
And in 2004 it was in trouble again over a range of T-shirts with a slogan
suggesting incest was rife in West Virginia.
The company's flagship UK store will be a stone's throw from Savile Row,
where the arrival is expected to raise eyebrows.
Chairman and chief executive, Mike Jeffries, recently boasted how the store's
outlets are routinely asked to turn down the music by other retailers.
Mr Jeffries said: "We are thrilled by the opening of the London store, which
will truly become a worldwide flagship.
"Its location in one of the most historic districts in the retail world will
provide an extraordinary showcase for the Abercrombie & Fitch brand."
The firm can trace its history to 1892, when it began life as a a small store
and factory in New York City.
David Abercrombie & Ezra Fitch were dedicated to selling only the highest
quality camping, fishing and hunting gear.
Distinguished clientele included Theodore Roosevelt, Admiral Robert Peary,
Ernest Hemingway, the Duke of Windsor, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Presidents
Eisenhower and Kennedy.
The company says it now intends to "outfit a new generation of spirited
clientele in the United Kingdom". In this country that is likely to be
footballers and City young guns.