Dethroning A Cultural Idol

Slum Abercrombie

Slum Abercrombie by Karl Hans on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Several years ago, we were on holiday at a farm where another couple wore the most achingly hip clothes, even when knee deep in mud and other farm-related substances. We nicknamed them Mr Abercrombie and Mrs Fitch, after the clothing brand that thinks it is only for cool, attractive people. (Indeed, note the company’s refusal to cater for overweight women.) The Christian surely reads of this practice and concludes that idolatry is at work: idolatry of body image (which has terrifying consequences for many), and idolatry of consumerism, amongst others.

So how intriguing was it to read of the #FitchTheHomeless campaign. One man who was so incensed by the company policy has gone to charity shops, bought up any stock of A & F clothing he can find, and donated it to the homeless. After all, A & F themselves apparently refuse to donate clothing to those in need, say, when there is a natural disaster. As one former manager put it,

Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t want to create the image that just anybody, poor people, can wear their clothing. Only people of a certain stature are able to purchase and wear the company name.

Whether the campaign will have unintended consequences, such as people assuming that homeless people are not truly poor, remains to be seen. I also have no idea whether the person in question, a writer named Greg Karber, is a man of faith, but it does raise the question of whether Christians could or should be involved in prophetic acts against the idols of our society. The wider world has given us Adbusters: what can the church contribute?

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