You could walk by any Abercrombie or Hollister store blindfolded and know, from the gusts of suffocating, cologne-saturated air, just where you were. The company’s disturbing practice of pumping cologne through stores’ ventilation systems has already hurt business in Japan’s first Abercrombie, as well as stores in the States, probably, since plenty of people don’t even want to stand near an open Abercrombie door for more than a few seconds because of the stench. Organizations are finally mobilizing to battle this terribly unfair practice, which they believe could put helpless consumers in danger. On Friday, Teens Turning Green, a student group that fights to rid the environment of toxic chemicals, will protest the Abercrombie flagship on 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. “We have decided to stand up for our health, and demand a change,” the president of NYU’s Turning Green chapter, Jessica Assaf, says.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is also joining the fight. They say Abercrombie’s Fierce scent is made with eleven “secret chemicals” not listed on the label, some of which would lead to headaches, wheezing, asthma, and contact dermatitis. One such chemical could, ironically, harm male reproductive hormones.
“A&F’s image is that of the ideal strong young hunky man, yet Fierce has diethyl phthalate in it, shown to be linked to harm the manliest hormone,” says Alex Peaslee, co-president of Teens Turning Green, NYC, about the chemicals purported effects on testosterone. “It seems that the young guys are receiving exactly the opposite of what they hoped to gain by shopping there,” added Peaslee.
Abercrombie has responded, saying their ingredient-listing practices don’t violate any regulations, and that they have “significantly reduced the frequency of hand spritzing that associates do in the stores” — even though the spritzing was never the real problem. Dear Abercrombie, these concerns may sound silly, but consider how this might be affecting business: People don’t want to shop in a store that reeks! Even if some executives who have meetings in conference rooms together think teens will think it’s a good reek.