A popular clothing store with a target audience of upper-middle class white teens and college students, 14-25. A+F competes with similarly targeted clothing stores such as American Eagle, The Gap, and Old Navy. Despite it's popularity and controversial marketing tactics, Abercrombie and Fitch is still regularly beaten by Old Navy in sales.
Abercrombie and Fitch are highly controversial for the image attached to the name and for their suspect business practices.
The image attached to A+F clothing tends be regarded as either: elite, sexy, expensive, suggestive of money and status, and popular; or mindless, racist, elitist, shallow, and depraved, depending on viewpoint.
Abercrombie and Fitch has come under numerous lawsuits for alleged racism and discrimination in their hiring and marketing tactics. Furthermore, A+F's marketing is extremely skillful with psychological manipulation. The stores are equipped with looped advertisments running non-stop in back areas, designed for maximum saturation of propaganda, and affect multiple senses at once with constant spritzing of their trademark fragrance, loud, pulsing music, offsetting lighting and visual propaganda, and availble tactile stimulation. These are all coupled with heavy sexual imagery (to compound the point, the music played is also inductive of sexuality).
Much of the marketing tactics of A+F border on or directly resemble fascist (particularly Nazist with the excessive elitism and alleged racism) indoctrination techniques. Along with Hollister Co., which is owned by the same company and employs identicle tactics, the stores are often viewed as cultish because of their heavy propaganda and the apparent mindlessness often associated with those who shop at A+F. The youth targeted and often excessive sexuality of A+F propaganda gives A+F an image of depravity not shared with other similar stores such as American Eagle (excepting Hollister Co. which again, is very similar to A+F).
While overly gross generalizations are often made of people who shop at A+F, the cultish image created by A+F and the zealot nature of some A+F supporters, as well as the frequency with which the stereotypes are accurate refect poorly on the overall group who shop there.
Much of A+F's tactics can be seen in fascist philosophy.
The constant sensual assault of the Abercrombie and Fitch stores strongly resembles the mass propaganda events held in Communist China that air on Chinese television all day, every day.