The Debate: Abercrombie & Fitch, Aéropostale, Hollister Co., American Eagle, Ruehl No. 925 et al... Are They Preppy?

The debate as to whether these brands constitute "preppy" has been raging on the world wide web for a long time now and a previous blog of mine lost readers due to my stance on this issue. Sigh. Good to know there are some very mature thinkers out there?

I thought I'd open the debate up here as I'm keen to hear your thoughts on the matter. You might note that I haven't included these brands in my lists of preppy fashion labels (in the right hand column of my blog) and here is why...

... My thoughts are that Abercrombie & Fitch (and label mates abercrombie kidsHollister Co., Gilly Hicks and Ruehl No. 925 - now defunct), American Eagle Outfitters (and label mates 77kids and Martin + Osa - also defunct) and Aéropostale (and p.s. from aéropostale) are predominantly aimed at teens and twentysomethings with a view to capitalising on what has been a resurgence in popularity of all things preppy. The same can be said of the Irish label Farrell & Brown. What these labels fail to represent is the heritage, practicality, fine craftsmanship and style that has lead to so many other labels becomming coveted by preps the world over.

I don't deny that many of the products made by these labels are of high quality and I do indeed own items from all of these brands. However it is the move towards fashion over form that marks them out as being decidedly unpreppy. It is arguable as to whether European brands Jack Wills, Aubin & Wills, Crew Clothing Co., Joules and Franklin & Marshall should also be listed alongside these other brands - however these labels have endorsed sport, lifestyle, arts and so on being very much in keeping with preppy tradition and so I choose therefore to include them on my list. Preppy is not a fashion it is a way of life.

I would venture, however, that vintage Abercrombie & Fitch (we're talking way, way back before Limited Brands took over) is definitely preppy. As the pre-eminent supplier of sporting goods for the gentleman, old Abercrombie products (even their catalogs) are very sought after and you will likely find these things in the homes of old-school preps. I have a hunting satchel buried away somewhere which I simply adore and they also made some very fine timepieces too. Check out for vintage A&F watches.

Interestingly, whilst many detractors would not view these brands as having preppy qualities and not being popular with the preppy set in North America, the opposite is true in Europe. As these brands tend to be available only in North American retail outlets they have a very preppy fanbase in Europe (as only preps travel to the States for shopping and holidays). Due to the difficulty perceived in obtaining these brands in Europe they are very much coveted as prep items, alongside their European equivalents.
I look forward to hearing where you stand on this.