Abercrombie & Fitch Reinvention Continues With New Creative Director


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The Abercrombie & Fitch store on Fifth Avenue.

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Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The reinvention of Abercrombie & Fitch continues apace. After covering up the barely clad store staff with actual shirts, making the randy-teenagers-romping-the-fields ads G-rated, and bringing in a new men’s wear chief from Club Monaco, the retailer is capping it all off with the appointment of a new creative director: Katia Kuethe, former creative director of Lucky magazine.

You know Lucky: the super-enthusiastic shopping magazine that Condé Nast started in 2000, spun off into The Lucky Group in a joint venture with the e-commerce specialist BeachMint, and which recently shuttered its print operation.

Ms. Kuethe confirmed her appointment Tuesday night.

Abercrombie declined to comment about the news, but a glance at Ms. Kuethe’s résumé suggests that this new role may signal more changes in the brand’s attitude and look, while keeping a clear focus on the youthful market.

Before Lucky, after all, Ms. Kuethe was senior director of creative at Kate Spade, an even more bright-’n’-cheerful brand than Lucky. Think stripes! And polka dots! And picnics!

Born in Stuttgart, Germany, she has also worked at Tom Ford, YSL, J. Crew — and Teen Vogue. 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.

At Lucky, where covers tended to feature laughing celebrities dressed in sunny shades, Ms. Kuethe worked with photographers such as Patrick Demarchelier, Todd Cole and Kim Myers Robertson, among others. Let’s see what happens next.



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