When Abercrombie & Fitch went shopping for an attractive location for a fashion shoot this spring, it couldn't pass up Swarthmore College's rolling hills and blossoming foliage. What company officials did pass up was the Swarthmore student body, angering many on the Pennsylvania campus.
The company, which uses near nudity in ads to sell its preppy clothing to the young and affluent, brought its own models for the shoot. In opinion articles in the campus newspaper, The Phoenix, students also complained that corporations should not be allowed to define beauty. What's more, they said, there's a huge disconnect between the company's values and Swarthmore's.
"Swarthmore is not a mainstream school," says Dann Naseemullah, a senior. "The culture that they peddle is not our culture."
Meanwhile, students at Stanford University and several other institutions were criticizing the company's new line of T-shirts featuring caricatured Asian faces and bearing such slogans as "Wong Brothers Laundry Service -- Two Wongs Can Make It White." The company quickly withdrew the shirts and apologized.
But company officials defend their use of Swarthmore, even though they don't plan to identify the campus in their ads. "A setting at Swarthmore is totally appropriate for our purposes of conveying the image of the name to our customer," says Hampton Carney, a company spokesman.
Thomas Krattenmaker, a Swarthmore spokesman, says the students are making much of nothing. "I'm glad that Swarthmore students have the social conscience that they have," he says. "But I've heard from lots of students who thought it was kind of fun that Abercrombie was here."
Source: 2002 Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc.