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Abercrombie x Žižek
Considering the 2003 collaboration that actually did occur.
I remember two things my first pair of Abercrombie & Fitch with absolute clarity: their length and their smell. They smelled unlike any other piece of clothing I’d ever encountered: not like the infamous Fierce cologne that their employees sprayed all over their stores every hour on the hour, but like a vintage shirt lightly kissed by the creamy richness of sandalwood. When my mom first bought them for me, I used to put my face in them and take deep breaths after bringing them home. I’d check my closet to make sure they were still there, like I was afraid they’d simply disappear from my life and I’d never get to indulge in their scent again. I was allowed to buy them in the first place — they were probably $100, since everything there was ridiculously expensive for the early 2000s — because of their unusually long length. As a gawky, too-tall preteen with too-long limbs, all my jeans from the local mall stores (Old Navy, JC Penny, Gap, Aeropostale) ended well above my ankle. It a dark age for long inseams. I earned the nickname ‘floods’ in school and I begged my parents to drive me a half hour to the big mall in Pennsylvania so that I could try more stores and find the perfect pair of jeans. And so they did, and so I discovered Abercrombie & Fitch, and then I was hooked.
I started watching Netflix’s White Hot documentary about Abercrombie & Fitch and I quickly became kind of bored, honestly. (Netflix, retire bitch). I kept thinking about those long, intoxicating jeans (lol) and the absolute chokehold they had over me at age thirteen. They made me feel like a true hot, cool girl: last week I wrote about feeling good about my body becoming strong for the first time, and this week I guess I’m writing about the first time I wanted to break my body so that it could fill an ideal form. I remember with even more absolute cringeworthy clarity the way that I cried on the Lehigh Valley Mall escalator when I officially no longer fit into those size 0 jeans.
“You have hips,” my mom reasoned with me. “You’re becoming a woman! It’s beautiful!”
Oh, did I wail. My red-faced bratty ass probably ran straight to Forever 21 to self-soothe with as many $2.99 tank tops as I could buy.
Abercrombie & Fitch’s energy in 2003 — when I was thirteen, if you must know — was quite erotic. Homoerotic, misogynistic, etc. etc. etc. All the -ics you could name, probably. An incredibly covetable object in 2003 was the A&F catalog. A friend would get it in the mail and then we’d all cut it up and tack it to our walls or fold it up to be a textbook cover. In 2003, they actually collaborated with philosopher and Jordan-Peterson-debater Slavoj Žižek on a sort of dissection of eroticism. Their photos, his words. Supreme-style, really.
I rediscovered this incredible cultural artifact earlier this year. It reminded me of that sexually-awakening denim and the way I lived at the mall, the way ‘back to school’ felt like hunting season, the way collegiate fantasies dominated my mind before I even understood what college actually was. Here, I humbly present some excerpts from that batshit collab. Enjoy.
Much to think about……