Abercrombie's Beefcake Brigade

FASHION FORWARD

Gap peddles clothes, but Abercrombie & Fitch sells a technicolor teen lifestyle--one of the reasons it is the brand of the moment. At A&F headquarters near Columbus, Ohio, retailing has become akin to moviemaking. The theme is popularity, and it's packaged, marketed and playing at a mall near you. Every flannel and fleece pullover is choreographed to present the appearance of effortless cool. Yes, the tag on the $59.90 paratroop pants proclaims that they've been TESTED, but that's a prop, part of the romantic retail fantasy. "You buy into the emotional experience of a movie," says the director, CEO Michael Jeffries....

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