If you're over the age of 25, you know it's pretty much impossible to go in Abercrombie & Fitch without gagging. "They made us spray the signature scents every 20 minutes like clockwork, so the store always smells," reports a former Abercrombie & Fitch employee (who asked that she not be named). "Most stores even have scent sprayers in the ceiling. After a while, you start to get dizzy."
On Tuesday, a group of Bay Area teens decided to let the brand know just how much they don't appreciate the nostril assault. Teens Turning Green
stormed an Abercrombie & Fitch store in San Francisco's Westfield Mall, wearing surgical masks and gas masks and carrying signs with slogans like "Stop the Perfume Pollution."
And it wasn't the pungent aroma of disappointing prom nights and bad keg parties that they were protesting. Recent lab analysis by the nonprofit advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
revealed that A&F's "Fierce" fragrance contains 11 chemicals not listed on the ingredient label, many of which are sensitizers that can trigger asthma, headaches and contact dermatitis. One (diethyl phthalate) has been linked in some studies to sperm damage in adult men and abnormal reproductive development in baby boys ...
While it's not clear that spraying "Fierce" can cause such health problems, the group says A&F shoppers in nearby Village at Corte Madera, an open-air mall in Marin County, complained of headaches, sore throats, coughing and nausea to the point that mall management asked that branch to remove their storefront sprayers. (The store agreed.)
"This demonstrates that there can be simple change in practices to protect our air, health and environment," the group wrote in a petition to Mike Jeffries, the company's CEO, which asked the chain to stop spraying "Fierce" in and around all of its retail locations across the country.
The group is still waiting for the CEO's response, but the San Francisco store wasn't too pleased with them on Tuesday. Store managers responded to the protest by closing the location to all customers and calling the police.
"It was interesting that the powers that be felt the need to send three police squad cars to protect A&F from the teens," notes Stacy Malkan, a Campaign for Safe Cosmetics spokesperson and author of "Not Just a Pretty Face
," who participated in the protest and noted that "the cologne's stench was overwhelming even from 20 feet away on the sidewalk!"
Police said the protesters could picket the sidewalk, but would be arrested if they entered the store.
We love Teens Turning Green co-president Emily Packer's cool response: "We may have trespassed in your store, but we want to tell you, you're trespassing on our rights and on our health." Game on.
Speaking of stinky perfume, here's more on Mariah Carey's new scent: Wonder if it will be as bad as "Glitter" ...