There are more changes in store for Abercrombie & Fitch since the ouster of the chain's former CEO Mike Jeffries late last year. While the stores' lighting has been turned up, the music has been turned down, the fragrance pumped into the air inside has been reduced dramatically and the staffers have been instructed to keep their shirts on, the main concern for the future of the company has been its product. The khakis, rugby shirts, jeans and polos that form the backbone of its men's merchandise have remained little changed over the years since the chain became a phenomenon in the late 1990s, except for varying degrees of logo decoration. It looks like some profound change is about to hit the brand as it has just stolen a new design director from the contemporary chain Club Monaco. Aaron Levine (pictured above) has just been named head of men's design at Abercrombie & Fitch & Co. according to WWD, which suggests that the brand is looking for a more sophisticated fashion direction in the seasons to come. Levine left Club Monaco earlier this month, and his previous experience includes stints at Jack Spade, Rogues Gallery and Hickey, the fleeting but fondly remembered contemporary offshoot of the classic men's suit brand Hickey Freeman.
While Levine's plans for Abercrombie's fashion direction have yet to be revealed, as vice-president of men's design at Club Monaco he succeeded in transforming its menswear offerings from a pleasant assortment of contemporary sportswear trends at a price to a vastly more cohesive collection of classic menswear with a youthful silhouette and a quirky edge that became a favorite of fashion critics as well as customers. He also brought in select footwear and accessory resources to complement and elevate the chain's products in a manner not unlike that of rival J.Crew.
While we don't expect that Abercrombie & Fitch stores are going to be turned into hipster gentleman's clubs right away, Levine's appointment suggest that the Abercrombie of the future may break free from the collegiate/athletic/preppy style parameters that, up until now, it has maintained to a fault.