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The Stylist Who Owns More Than 1,000 Pieces of Abercrombie & Fitch



The Stylist Who Owns More Than 1,000 Pieces of Abercrombie & Fitch

Marcus Allen has a long history with Abercrombie & Fitch and quite a number of pieces. The New York–based stylist estimates he has more than 1,000 items—“at minimum”—some of which date back to the 1960s. To see the pieces, clients have to visit his appointment-only archive titled The Society Archive, much of which he often pulls from for his own styling. Allen worked at the infamous “all-American” mall brand when he was in high school in a small town outside of Boston. As a teen, he was fascinated. “I really, really love product, so I’ve always been intrigued by brands. If you walk into a store in the mall, you understand exactly what that world is. It’s why we spend money,” he says.

Of course, Abercrombie & Fitch is riddled with controversy. This year’s documentary White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch addresses the brand’s alleged hiring practices, which favored white employees with thin and fit body types. “It’s not my intention to recreate what Abercrombie & Fitch was doing or promoting,” Allen says. “My intention is to promote and build a brand identity with a new perspective with this familiar product.”

His obsession boils down to the quality of yesteryear Abercrombie & Fitch. “The technical and fleece vests are all Patagonia-level quality,” he says. “All of the distressing and vintage details are super authentic and not contrived-feeling at all.” Allen is not the only collector; there is a community of Abercrombie & Fitch archivists in Japan, which is primarily where he gets his pieces. “While runways were informing what mall brands were doing design-wise, they–A&F, etc.—were not skimping on the quality of the pieces.” He makes the comparison with a pair of jeans. “I have 5-pocket leather Gap bootcut jeans that are the same exact quality and cut of a pair of Tom Ford-era Gucci ones,” he says. And as a testament to the quality, currently, Allen keeps the first piece he ever bought, a multi-color striped Shetland wool sweater in his freezer.

Some of his favorite pieces are the brand’s cargo pants. He has about 80 pairs, some of which he has had since his high school days in the early ’00s. “They’re good for being on set,” says Allen. His rarest piece is a pair of embroidered ones with flowers. “I never saw them when I was working there. I found them, and they were crazy expensive. I was like, I have to buy these because they’re so weird. And then I ended up selling them, and then I found a short version of them, which I will not sell.”

In addition, Allen has two discontinued pairs of Abercrombie & Fitch cargo pants embroidered with a dragon, which are nearly impossible to find. The Japanese label Maharishi, who created the “Snopants” famously worn by Jennifer Aniston in her paparazzi photos with Brad Pitt, sued Abercrombie & Fitch back in 2004 after they had copied their designs. Allen owns two iterations of the pants in green and orange. “I can’t find them anywhere,” he says.

While building his stash of Abercrombie & Fitch—which Allen started accumulating in 2000—he’s simultaneously collecting other mall brands, including The Gap and Victoria’s Secret, as well as luxury labels like Tom Ford–era Gucci, Calvin Klein, and Prada. High-low is the ethos of The Society Archive. “The thing that’s interesting to me is how do you wear this stuff? How are you pairing this with something that you can actually wear out today and not look like you’re in a costume?” says Allen. “Stylistically speaking, the juxtaposition of mall brand basics or specialty pieces with high-end or designer basics just feels good, like pairing leather Gucci slides with a silk floral A&F dress or an A&F cami with a Prada skirt. It makes the runway items palatable and effortless.”

Allen notes that the popularity around the film actually spiked interest in the brand’s archival pieces. Shoppers were looking for that unsung early 2000s aesthetic. “The A&F doc brought on some increased mall nostalgia. [My] inbox and DMs were flooded. We sold almost every tiny skirt and graphic innuendo,” he says. “I tried to order Jamba Juice ‘smoothies’ for appointments, but no such luck.”