Taking the abs out of Abercrombie: retailer tones down sexy

Abercrombie & Fitch is saying goodbye to the shirtless beefcake models who greeted customers at its doors. The company announced Friday that store associates will not be hired “based on body type or physical attractiveness” and it will no longer call them “models” but “brand representatives.” It also said that its employees can be more individualistic when they dress, ditching its “look policy,” which banned eyeliner and certain hair styles among other things. It’s also bidding adieu to “sexualized” photos in marketing materials in its stores and on its gift cards and shopping bags, starting in late July.

Abercrombie & Fitch has to find its niche. I don’t know what that’s going to be. Edgy was it.

Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics LLC, a retail research firm

The moves are part of a new set of changes the retailer announced Friday as it distances itself from the controversial sexualized image established by former CEO Mike Jeffries, who abruptly resigned in December amid sluggish sales. Analysts wonder: if Abercrombie ditches the “sexy,” what new marketing gimmick will the retailer embrace to get shoppers back in its stores? Since the Great Recession, the brand has stumbled on hard times. Young shoppers are reprioritizing and spending more money on gadgets like iPhones than clothes. The company’s total sales and net income have also been on a downward trend over the past two years.