Saturday, January 25, 2014

Letter from the Editor! | Dawn of #NewFuture...

One as a resolute fighter always looks forward for the
dawn of a day better than the yesterday...
         PERSONALLY FOR ME, the turn of a new year heralds an enveloping sense of futurism in the mind that sets in me a forward visionary mood. This only really began back in Winter 2009/10. I was on a high from a draught of emotion that the future was only really about to begin: James Cameron's revolutionary Avatar had me enthralled ushering the future of cinema in the 21st century with breakthrough stereoscopic 3D technology; Karl Lagerfeld showcased his CHANEL Métiers d'Art 2009/10 collection in Shanghai on the last days of the 2000s (only months before China was to surpass Japan as the world's second greatest economy, ever growing its consumer influence worldwide, on way to becoming the world's greatest luxury market, and now wholly accepted to be poised as a rising superpower to alter the modern world for the first time as we know it); Apple was rumored to be gearing up to launch a landmark tablet computer with an engrossing touchscreen interface; Abercrombie & Fitch had arrived in Asia with its towering, elegant Ginza flagship (forever my favorite) in Tokyo; and we were to leave behind the "00" years – to never happen again for another millennia – and enter the 2010s. From the last days of 2009 and on into 2010, the future had fully arrived, indeed...

This time, however, this sense of annual turn-of-the-year futurism takes a more particular significance. Ladies and gentlemen, the middle of the 2010s have begun. And let that sink in for a minute... As of now, you and I find ourselves at the dawn of a new period to set the new future.

This Spring 2014 season will concretely begin as the first of the mid-2010s and of this new period of transition. CEO Michael "Mike" S. Jeffries will continue to lead Abercrombie & Fitch Co. though now under his new-and-revised employment agreement (to come into effect on February 2) which has him susceptible to remain or not past 1 February 2015 and based more so on performance. As his tenure continues, Mike will oversee the execution of game-changing new initiatives anticipated to remedy the ailing situation at the Company across multiple aspects of the corporate organism: marketing and advertising; merchandising; retail operations; leadership and infrastructural clarity; investment returns; and as well as securing more sound international operations and expansion.

What is extremely interesting about all this – specially of note for me as a history buff – is that it is by fate a development of historic recurrence. Exactly one decade ago, Abercrombie & Fitch was in a problematic state that heatedly called for major changes: there was the scandal on the A&F Quarterly Christmas 2003 edition (pulled off shelves before December 2003 even ended) which far crossed the line that time to the public mind and reached levels of discontent unlike ever before; the Company faced alarming accusations of racial and sexist discrimination which gained national primetime TV coverage also in light of a major lawsuit (which A&F would go on to agree to settlement with plaintiffs and give rise to the preeminence of court-mandated corporate diversity programs); sales significantly declined for the Abercrombie & Fitch brand; and ANF stock took a nosedive as 2003 came to a close. Stock began climbing and things took a turn for the better in 2004 as the mid-2000s began and Abercrombie & Fitch took things to a higher level of quality and sophistication: focused on delivering ever-classic marketing; released the high-end Ezra Fitch collection; launched RUEHL No.925; introduced the "Casual Luxury" theme and overall pushed for a near-luxury image; and work was developing for the first ever A&F Flagship in the Modern Era as, internally, plans for international expansion were also flourishing.

As one famed quip goes...


In the early-2010s, the Company experienced a great improvement from the market's woes of the Great Recession which culminated in 2012 with epic global hype. But all that began to wane as 2013 progressed: the media began to prominently report Abercrombie's "cool" factor as shallow, losing relevancy, and in obvious decline; the springtime witnessed the international scandal over Mike Jeffries' words on his preference of people from an interview from the 2000s; by August, ANF stock took a sharply steep dive from which it has yet to recover; quarter after quarter resulted in a drop in sales; much inventory was left over from the third quarter (Q3) and the problem would continue on with winter merchandise in Q4; mass discounts rolled out one after another throughout the winter; and Gilly Hicks stores were announced in December to be closing by the end of Fiscal Year 2013. Recently, the Huffington Post included Abercrombie & Fitch as #9 on its list of "9 Iconic Brands That Could Soon Be Dead" Close friends know that nine has been my number for intriguing reasons for years now, and for A&F to be listed of all numbers at nine was an icy happening.

However, 2014 is here and the mid-2010s have begun. And as in rhyme of the past, profoundly intriguing new initiatives are to begin their play for the #NewFuture. We will be seeing much cool introductions into the merchandising throng – shades and Aber-shoeies among other things, anyone?! – and continued newness in the retail character and further spread of our icon worldwide. Of epic historic highlight, this year will furthermore mark the inauguration of Abercrombie & Fitch on mainland China with further mall-based expansion – a first for A&F internationally! – to closely follow; and allow me to share that A&F operations in China, with an outstanding foundation, do have the potential to become second only to the American market well before the mid-21st century. I do believe so. But apart from all the new key points to make their mark for the betterment of the Company, therein lies in Abercrombie a transcendent-through-time unyielding spirit. And I'll tell you something more: listing A&F on that list was just sorely off. I've delved deep in understanding this Company's soul full well, and of everything I've come to know is that Abercrombie & Fitch – for however many challenges and blows it may take – is resolutely an ultimate fighter and champion!

As for The Sitch on Fitch, I proudly welcome you to our new Spring 2014 season themed "#NEWFUTURE". One year ago, we launched #NEWLOOK Spring 2013 with a rebranding initiative that continued dramatically evolving the blog throughout the year on through Back-to-School 2013 and Christmas 2013. We've come out of that rebranding year embracing the great repositioning of image, content, and overall structure we underwent. Pulling through into the mid-2010s and the beginning of a new period for Abercrombie & Fitch, #THEHOTTESTBLOG now stands stately and exuding a new kind of elegance and sophistication, unlike ever before wrought by our efforts, and relevant to the time in terms of design and attitude. I creatively guide it now into the mid-2010s with a furthermore heightened sense of futurism and pragmatism which is also taking hold among high creative spheres. Significantly, The Sitch on Fitch Co. henceforth now recognizes its efforts as contained by an all encompassing triumvirate of business, culture, and style and it now commands a portfolio of three blogs focusing on delivering more direct content on each of the A&F Family brands. These three blogs are the flagship The Sitch on Fitch blog (tying together all elements of the universe of Abercrombie & Fitch) and two specialty blogs, The Trubble Village Bar (for RUEHL fans) and The Gilly Galzette (for Gilly Hicks fans) which both operate with blurred-lines of fantasy and reality. We will be working on developing and learning with this new portfolio, as time progresses and interaction with readers grows, this first-half of 2014: there are two other concepts still in the pipeline backstage which we won't begin on until the latter-half of 2014 by when we expect to have our current spinoffs fully settled. Thus The Sitch on Fitch commences the mid-2010s on a new level and leaves behind its seminal years in the early-2010s. It is truly an exciting time for this blog and I, back when I first launched it, would have never imagined where it has gone today. It's incredible.

In concluding this landmark Letter on the start of this new period, I deeply thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of The Sitch on Fitch through your visiting and loyal following. As we near four years since the launch, many of you have been following The Sitch on Fitch for 2+ and have been with it through all the incredible transformation it has undergone. And I thank you for your support. I thank you so much. It is because of awesome, devoted A&F fans from around the world like you that The Sitch on Fitch has become as iconic as it has become in our global A&F community. It is already a monumental record of what has happened in our world and a treasure hoard of insight. It informs the current fan and will exist with a great wealth of information for future generations of fans. It is a beautiful legacy in the making, and it is also something beautifully special and wonderful to have unified passionate fans, such as yourself, from around the world, to one spot...#THEHOTTESTBLOG. By your support, it continues ever more and continues striving for the next level always. It exists for YOU. Thank you, sincerely.

My fellows, as always, Stay FIERCE!

The Sitch on Fitch

P.S. I leave you off with this tune which I just incessantly replayed through my designing of TSOF for this season and my typing of this Letter...