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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Abercrombie Siblings Get Revamped Online


The new look of abercrombie.com as of February 9, 2010 (image source)
The websites for Abercrombie & Fitch and abercrombie have been given a refreshingly new makeover! Newly reimagined, the online content has been reorganized and given a clean and bold appearance. The logos, huge and stately, once again reign over head on every page, in their beautiful Adobe Garamond typeface, ever so elegantly omnipresent. The main content (mens, womens, kids, casting, and playlist for A&F; and guys, girls, and playlist for abercrombie) is centered under the logos while the other miscellaneous content (stores, subscribe, wish list, and sign in/account/register) is made available to the far right hand of the overhead. All other information is found at the bottom, ofcourse. All the merchandise is amazingly placed on a grid so that you can campare multiple items all at once unlike the previous linear model. The look books are gone, too. Sad, but a well.

This design is not original, however. It is an adaptation of the web design for gillyhicks.com that was introduced in July 2010 after the website was downgraded from its amazing Adobe Flash Player (AFP) graphics. The appearance itself is nice, but it is so unoriginal and takes away the individuality of A&F/abercrombie that set it apart online from its sibling brands. Going from abercrombie.com to gillyhicks.com and seeing everything presented in the same way is just lame. Yes, people will now get the idea that A&F and Gilly Hicks are from the same company, but it has gone to far. It is the completely same format and chokes their individuality, preventing them from having their own customized and personal space.

So far, this post has discussed the "look" of the design, but the manner in which the whole thing loads is another matter. The software, or whatever (I'm not a tech geek), used to bring the website to life is not ideal for the type of brand image that A&F has accumulated. It is very cumbersome, simple, cheap and annoying. The graphics load unprecisely: They randomly pop into place at differing times, seconds apart, and when you click on "tops," for example, there is no fluidity dropping of the categories but a refreshing of the entire page. It would have been completely admirable if the company had instead upgraded the websites to Adobe Flash Player graphics by making the over all experience online a visual treat, galore!

When the ruehl.com online store was launched, the website was a wonderful and smooth experience worthy of the upscale and sophicticated brand that was Ruehl. When the gillyhicks.com online store was launched, A&F also promoted the website to AFP and it was even more graphically graceful than ruehl.com. Then gillyhicks.com was downgraded to cheap software. The online website for A&F and abercrombie was similar to ruehl.com but it was not operating on AFP. A promotion to AFP would have been ideal and would have been recieved as a proud move by the company in its effort to further move the image of A&F as a respectable and serious international brand.

Many retailers have been wary of launching online stores because they fear that they can not present their online content in an elegant and sophiticated manner worthy of their image. The software employed for HCo. is appropriate for the HCo. brand because it is just a a lower-end brand. The downgrade of GH to a cheaper format was sad because it brought down its potential to cultivate a sophicticated image online, and Gilly is now an easy, simple girl online, but it nevertheless fits with the brand in its current state as an infant brand. The old format for A&F and abercrombie was great for the brands, but an upgrade to higher-grade graphics would have been expected from a now international company that wants to propel its image further up the latter. Instead, the Company downgraded to a format worthy of its only-growing-in-America, pre-international years and not of an international, multi-billion dollar brand commanding worldwide respect. Come on now, Abercrombie & Fitch, you are opening on Champs-Élysées in Paris this year...an sophisticated and cool upgrade to higher-grade graphics would have been explosively awesome!

So...basically, the look is nice, but the platter you're serving it on totally sucks! Instead of serving eye-candy on a paper plate, try serving it on porcelain. Seriously, numerous fans on the official Facebook page commented on their dislike for the website. The whole thing is a let down, honestly! It is convenient, but not so enjoyable. Whatever happened to being FIERCE?