Thursday, June 18, 2015

Business | Abercrombie's Greater (Fashion) Forward Step...

In most (fashion) forward step ever, Abercrombie & Fitch has enlisted from industry's top-tier talent
as the rebranding of the All-American icon continues steadfast...

         MAKING HEADLINES IN the fashion world this week has been the high-profile appointment of two key, select individuals this month of June, and included are two prior hires - the four from higher echelons of fashion and with refined, innovative, recognized and sophisticated expertise - for the ongoing heculean task of reinvigorating Abercrombie & Fitch Co. anew.

To further elaborate and sharpen efforts, with specialized focus, under the overall oversee of Brand Presidents Christos Emilios Angelides (Abercrombie & Fitch and abercrombie) and Fran Horowitz-Bonadies (Hollister Co.), the four recent prominent additions to the continuously evolving greater business are Katia Kuethe as A&F Creative Director of Marketing (pictured above; who was senior art director at Ann Taylor, creative director at TeenVogue, senior director of creative at Kate Spade, and creative director at Lucky, and also has had beauty-products experience with Estee Lauder and Tom Ford; hired for A&F in June), Aaron Levine as head of Abercrombie & Fitch menswear design (recently becoming renowned in the industry for powerfully transforming, reinvigorating Club Monaco, a subsidiary of Ralph Lauren Corporation; hired for A&F in June, still at Club Monaco), Lisa Lowman as head of Hollister girlswear design (with previous experience at the house of Versace before becoming a long-term key figure in Lucky Brand jeans; hired for A&F in May), and Kurt Koffman as Abercrombie & Fitch menswear division general manager (who had actually begun his career at A&F as senior merchant of men's wovens, 2003-05, only to have then moved into being brand merchant for Ralph Lauren, managing menswear merchandising at J Crew, director of global merchandising at Jack Spade (the menswear version of Kate Spade), and senior director of menswear merchandising at Club Monaco; hired for A&F in march, still at Club Monaco)...

"As we have previously announced, we have some work underway to help us restore our brands to a higher level of esteem." - Michael Scheiner, Senior Director of A&F Marketing, Public Relations & Corporate Communications

Still to secure are heads for Abercrombie & Fitch womenswear design and Hollister guyswear design, and there is speculation, considering the notable backgrounds of each of the hitherto four, over who each will be and from where they will hail from in the industry.

The realization of these individuals, in these positions, has been the most significant development in leadership since the creation and 2014 appointment of the Brand Presidents; it represents a major move in the further democratization and appropriate bureaucratic restructuring, at Abercrombie & Fitch Co., begun in 2014 with the reformation of the A&F Board of Directors and unprecedented tied-to-performance and checks made upon former Chairman and CEO, and founder of the modern Abercrombie & Fitch, Michael "Mike" S. Jeffries - a leader whose visionary, enigmatic and polarizing character repositioned the Company as a multibillion dollar fashion retail global icon, though which was well-known ran with totalitarian uniform: unchecked in power as Chairman & CEO until the last months of his 22 year tenure (1992-2014), he furthermore practically was de facto creative director of all with the philosophy of "[numerous] iconic businesses, one brand" (a statement used by the latter-half of the 2000s to symbolize the uniformed view of the whole Company then). Those days are long gone.

A powerful and wholly-impressive move in the dramatically-developing chapter of the modern transformation of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., the selection of such well high-place experienced and respectable talent in fashion - such as is Katia, Aaron, Lisa, and Kurt - sends a further strong, and well-noted, message out in the industry over the serious, strengthening efforts to reposition and reaffirm leading, iconic status of the portfolio of Abercrombie & Fitch brands. Together, the all-new formulating team - in the wake of this aforementioned reputable incoming talent - continues to clarify the view of what's ahead, inspired, down the road.

Aaron (left) at an American Tudor Watches launch and Lisa.

Well prior to being appointed at Abercrombie & Fitch, German-born Katia had this to say during an interview over her work ethic with The Covetuer:

"One thing that I think that has been beneficial for my career overall has been that I never go in with a negative attitude. That can be a bad thing. Sometimes I've learned you have to be a little bit more critical, you have to see the issues coming quickly. Change, opportunities, my first instinct is usually, 'Cool, let's make it the best we can.' [...] [And] I always appreciate any kind of learning.Those learning curves of, how do you concept your shoots? What is the threshold? How far can you go? That's something I've been enjoying, I have to say."

And as The New York Times furthered on Katia, in highlighting in article her appointment as Creative Director of Marketing, "Her experience skews to the non-ironic and positive, as does her Instagram feed, which features arty shots of urban landscapes; classic, relaxed streetwear (think denim and T-shirts); and smiley people, including her young son. She is not, in other words, Michael Jeffries, founder of the Abercrombie brand, who once identified it as being only for 'good-looking people.' Anyway, it is an interesting choice, and reflects a real understanding on the part of Abercrombie’s management of the need for change that goes beyond the look of the stores to the ethos of the brand. The big question now is whether Bruce Weber, the photographer whose ad campaigns defined the soft-porn halcyon vision of hunky dudes in denim that was once the Abercrombie hallmark, will continue to work with the brand. Presumably, the decision falls under Ms. Kuethe’s remit, and will be one of her most pressing issues. [...] Ms. Kuethe [has] worked with photographers such as Patrick Demarchelier, Todd Cole and Kim Myers Robertson, among others. Let’s see what happens next."

Meanwhile, GQ proclaimed, "It seems that Abercrombie & Fitch is doubling down on its efforts to change [its] image. [It has] confirmed that Aaron Levine, who most recently helmed the menswear at Club Monaco, has been hired as the new head of men's design. Levine has evolved the product at Club Monaco to new heights, and we've loved every minute of it. His background also includes time at Jack Spade, Rogues Gallery, and Hickey Freeman. We believe in his track record, and we've got to say, this has us very interested in what's to come from our favorite cool teen brand of yore."

Having come about after the 2013 initiation of the "A&F Recession" (a terminology coined at The Sitch on Fitch), initiatives for the "new Abercrombie & Fitch" continue to powerfully unfold; it is a monumentally-invested effort, on an unprecedented scale for Abercrombie & Fitch Co., that will manifest newfound zest in fitting time, and this new Abercrombie & Fitch will make its founding mark as this latter-half of the 2010s unfolds, breath-held.


Images in this post
Katia Kuethe in an image by The Covetuer; Aaron Levine, September 11, 2013, image by Brian Ach/Getty Images; Lisa Lowman, personal photo