Foreword by C.E.R.:
As Editor-in-Chief of this modest, globally influential blog in the world-spanning A&F Fans community, I, C.E.R., have been very pleased with the positive reception of our first ever RUEHL Week on The Sitch on Fitch. A brilliant new initiative, it is a tasteful homage to the cool and romance of the incredible, timeless concept that was RUEHL. And while I have had the privilege of expressing my passion for the brand to the world, I have also invited another person on board...another wonderful, creative and full-bright mind and heart. If anyone is driven more than I by an awe-inspiring passion for a love of "A&F and gang" it is definitely this personal friend of mine. He is to this day a positive member of the Abercrombie & Fitch Company. I reached out to him and he replied with the admirable enthusiasm which I know him for. As our first ever 'FIERCE Guest Blogger' on The Sitch on Fitch, he is G. Alexander with his own personal tale of swingin' with RUEHL... Ladies and gentlemen, G. Alexander...
Wearing his RUEHL No.925 mens leather messenger bagI can remember when I first heard about RUEHL; I was working for the Company back in 2005. It wasn't until fall of 2006 that I first began to understand the magic of it all. The thing I loved and hated the most about RUEHL was it accessibility. Because it was not widespread, the closest store was almost two hours away. It wasn't as mainstream as A&F, so there was definitely an aire of mystery and I liked that it had exclusivity. You couldn't walk into a RUEHL every day, which is what made my experiences so unique and memorable – I would do anything to go back one more time.
with in season Abercrombie & Fitch pieces.
with in season Abercrombie & Fitch pieces.
In Summer of 2008, a RUEHL Roadtrip had been set in my place with my good friend Colette, who is now a district manager for A&F in Germany. We listening to one A&F song after another and she had shared many exciting things about the store's design and concept. None of which compared to actually experiencing it. The whole ride there I was filled with anticipation, like a kid on Christmas and when we finally set foot inside the Freehold Malll I basically exploded with excitement. I charged through the crowds of people with absolutely no idea where I was going. Colette told me to slow down and she calmly pointed me in the right direction. I could smell the signature cologne, not knowing what it was, but I knew I was close. I gazed with wide eyes at the storefront knowing I had arrived. It's the coolest thing you've ever seen – as I've recounted to many of my friends. The store was set back and lined with a cement sidewalk as if you were in the city. There was a brick facade with windows, steps and a wrought iron gate. It was like you were standing outside of a brownstone in Greenwich Village and if you counted, there were three homes. 921, 923 and the glorious 925. As soon as you stepped inside, the feeling only became more intimate. There was a small room, a foyer, with a single hanging light fixture, a tall vase of white calla lilies and shelving filled with expensive leather handbags where I was quickly greeted by a very attractive young man in a navy stripped polo. There were stairs and a long hallway head. Men's to the left and women's to the right. The denim was showcased in a large wall with a floor to ceiling rolling ladder, like you would find in an old library. I couldn't get over how cool of a detail that was. I slowly wandered room to room filling my arms with clothing and that's where things start to get blurry as I lost myself in the smooth music and seductive environment. I spent another two hours the store...
There were three additional trips in between, where I dragged friends and co-workers to experience "the magic." On one of those occasions I was approached by a manager, her name was Chrissy. She complimented me on my style and inquired about my whereabouts. She had tried to recruit me to work in the store – I was more excited than I was when I got recruited at the 5th Ave A&F flagship. I told her I was flattered and explained that I worked for the Company, but did not live around the area. I still have that card with the application information and store's phone number on my bulletin board. I've even called that number on more than one occasion after the brand closed, hoping someone might answer.
My final trip to RUEHL was in December of 2009. Alone. Looking back it's quite interesting to observe the bitter weather and my solidarity in comparison to the close of RUEHL. I just as quickly made my way to the store as I did on my first adventure. Once again I smelled the cologne and my heart started beating. Everything appeared the same from the outside, but it was a much sadder story inside. A large sign read "Christmas in the Village. 50% off the entire store." Before even making it into the first room, I could tell the store had a different energy. I frantically started grabbing everything in a size small – I didn't care what it was I had to leave with a piece of RUEHL. There were some rooms that were completely empty with all the lights turned off. I snuck into one of these dark rooms and took a seat on a small wooden stool. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight by James Taylor was playing as I looked around. Where were those tall, elegant calla lilies I loved so much? As I made my way to the back to make my purchases, there was a chocolate velour ribbon that had been untied from one of the wreathes. I slipped it into my pocket as a momentum. That ribbon now hangs over the doorway to my bedroom. I left the store with several large bags and made the necessary stops at Hollister and Abercrombie, only to return to walk through the store one more time. I wasn't ready to say goodbye, but it seemed I had no choice.
G.Alexander models pieces from his RUEHL No.925 collection.
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