Abercrombie store photos an illegal eyeful

Mar 01, 2008 10:30 PM  By

Abercrombie & Fitch years ago frequently found itself in hot water over the racy photos and content in its now-defunct A&F Quarterly magalog. The apparel and accessories retailer recently made the news again when some consumers objected to the photos used in one of its store displays.

Virginia Beach police last month confiscated two black-and-white photos of scantily clad men and a woman from an Abercrombie & Fitch store. What’s more, they cited the store manager on a misdemeanor obscenity charge.

Police said they issued the summons Feb. 2 after Abercrombie management did not heed warnings to remove the images from the Lynnhaven Mall store after some customers complained. City code makes it a crime to display obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles, said a police spokesperson.

Why was the manager charged rather than the New Albany, OH-based Abercrombie? According to the police spokesperson, there is no legal way to issue a summons to a corporate entity in such circumstances.

The obscenity charge was dropped a few days later, but if upheld it could have been serious. If convicted, the store manager faced a fine of up to $2,000 — and as much as a year in jail.

What was so salacious about said photos? One photograph (shown at left) depicts three shirtless young men, with one man’s upper buttocks showing. The other image was of a woman whose breast was partially exposed. Pretty tame by today’s media standards.

For its part, Abercrombie & Fitch contends that the police in Virginia Beach way overreacted. “The marketing images in question show less skin than you see any summer day at the beach. And certainly less than the plumber working on your kitchen sink,” the retailer said in a statement.