We Are The Rhoads Open Abercrombie & Fitch's Icons to an Inclusive Future
Abercrombie & Fitch was unstoppable in the 90s and 00s, but as the world changed so too did the culture around the brand. What worked so powerfully for them a decade ago was no longer the best way to court a developing community, so over the last number of years the brand has shifted its mission. For the last few seasons, Abercrombie has partnered with We Are The Rhoads to help inject a kind of accessible authenticity to the brand, but this time Chris and Sarah Rhoads wanted to bring back hints of the iconic imagery that defined Abercrombie in their last era. “One thing we really wanted to come to with this campaign was to really push the client to honor some of their heritage and the great iconic imagery they’ve done in the past but to do it in our way,” Sarah says.
“It makes it a challenge for us to figure out the best way to show them that the iconic Bruce Weber images from their past are amazing, and they didn’t have to be afraid of that,” Chris explains. The Rhoads had already created two different campaigns for the brand before and were able to use the trust capital they built with Abercrombie to lead the brand where they wanted to go.
“We were actually able to push them out of their comfort zone and give them the confidence to let us do it our way,” says Sarah. They rolled up her sleeves up, figuratively, and at one point even rolled up the sleeves of the models. Even though each of the models had been carefully styled by the brand’s team, Sarah wanted to do her own remix on it, subverting expectations and opening the whole shoot into a new avenue. The Rhoads asked for the freedom to play outside the confines of the pre-styled looks set forth by the brand, to shoot something for themselves, and the client loved the imagery that came out of that so much that they used many of them in the campaign. “We just got to freeform and it was really, really nice,” Sarah explains. “There were some moments that felt really good, and I was proud of the images that we were able to make.”
Ultimately the Rhoads took those recognizable images from the last decade of Abercrombie and reformed them in the image of Abercrombie’s new direction that’s accepting all customers and accessible. “I think what Chris and I do is so much about that: creating something that feels aspirational but very much feels attainable and you can reach across the aisle and touch and feel it and you want to step into it,” Sarah says. This campaign has the same soul as those classic images from the past, but in a way that feels inviting. It’s the perfect blend for Abercrombie: an honoring of their past with an invitation to be a part of their future.