Abercrombie & Fitch's sexy Christmas catalog and its hiring practices raise temperatures. Plus: Reaction to Ask Tracy.

By Salon Staff
Published December 1, 2003 8:32PM (EST)

[Read Have Yourself a Horny Little Christmas by Cole Kazdin.

Abercrombie & Fitch is producing quasi-pornish catalogs with circle jerk references? It's about time! Surely I'm not the only Salon reader who, skimming through Hustler, Swank and Hot Asian Ass, finds himself thinking, "Uncle Phil would look great in that flannel shirt the trucker in the gang bang is wearing."

I do find it unsettling though that a place that used to make good khaki pants has somehow established itself as the arbiter of cool, even if it is to bland kids who seek their camouflage at the mall instead of the Army surplus store.

So while I applaud their moxie, Abercrombie and its steamy new catalog aren't for me, but those who want to go down like Igby.

-- Mike Baugh

I post on a fashion chat board (FashionHag.com) where the hiring practices of A&F are well known. An A&F store manager has told the chat board that sales associates are photographed by the managers. The associates are told this is because they might be used in "commercials." In reality, any sales associate who is not a "10" is fired. Abercrombie and Fitch's corporate policy of discrimination is a dirty little secret that is now getting some real publicity.

Even though, as a baby boomer, I am well past the age or interest of being their customer, I really don't understand what is going on in the retail fashion world. I was just told (tearfully) by the store manager of my favorite mall store, The Limited, that a corporate decision has been made not to carry my size anymore. Size 14. Apparently, I'm not the only professional woman (you know, the ones with money) who will be unable to shop at her store anymore.

The corporate types might only want the young and beautiful to shop at their stores -- too bad. The rest of us have the money. Thanks for the exposé.

-- Janet Cohen

It's not surprising that you weren't able to get decent instructions from the giggling posers working at A&F. Unlike nearly every other retail store in existence (especially clothes merchants), employees of Abercrombie are instructed never to approach customers, nor are they given any advice on what to do when approached other than to keep contact at a minimum. As an employee from one store told me, "We don't need to. The clothes sell themselves."

-- Peter Suderman

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for writing about the horror, otherwise known as Abercrombie & Fitch. I walked into a store years ago, and remember feeling repulsed by the numerous posters depicting imagery reminiscent of Nazi propaganda (athletic, blond, blue-eyed boys standing in row-formation in an athletic hall). It is clear that this company's priority is about selling a frightening mindset, aesthetically and morally. I was saddened but not surprised to read about the discrimination lawsuits. What concerns me most is that this company is unfortunately successful at marketing their agenda to an impressionable age group.

-- Naomi Sanders

[Read the announcement of a new sex advice column by former prostitute Tracy Quan.]

By having Tracy Quan, a prostitute, as your sex expert, it seems to me you're sending a message that sex is about male pleasure. I'm certainly willing to believe Quan knows a lot about that, but why would she be a good person to ask about female sexuality? Shouldn't you have a gigolo on tap as well?

-- Katha Pollitt

I am very excited to see that you now have the Ask Tracy column. Indeed, I have asked myself many times, "What would Tracy do?" after reading her articles at Salon.com. I like Cary Tennis and read his column, but I think it will be nice to have a female counterpart to him as well as a place specifically for sex-related questions. Sometimes questions I've had regarding relationships have really just boiled down to sex questions, and seemed a bit out of Cary's normal topic area, so I didn't send them in. I will definitely be looking forward to this new column.

-- Lillian Magidow

I am about as far from a prude as a person can be, but I find the idea of employing a prostitute to give sex advice thoroughly revolting. This society has enough troubles without glorifying prostitution (whether it be prostitution of the body or of the principles). Please reconsider this horrible idea.

-- Walter Crockett

Salon Staff

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