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It's loud, dark and will make your head hurt ... but your kids will just love it

LET the countdown commence - Tomorrow morning at 11am, Dublin's brand new Abercrombie & Fitch store will throw open its door.



But be warned; this store is for the very young and the very beautiful.

Chances are if you're over the age of 25 and you don't like shopping in semi-darkness this store is not for you.

Like the US branches, the Dublin flagship shop is dimly lit with pumping club music playing on loop.

"We want it to feel like you're in a club," Abercrombie spokeswoman Mackenzie Bruce explained.



Scent

"With the lights down and the music up. We wanted it to be a fun place where fun young people want to come hang out."

While teenagers are big fans of the club-like atmosphere, their parents tend to be less enthusiastic.

"Yeah, we always joke that you can spot the moms and dads. They're the ones sitting in the armchairs taking a break from it all," Ms Bruce added.

Dublin's Abercrombie & Fitch aims to replicate A&Fs around the world.

The toned and chiselled sales assistants dancing on the spot, the lack of natural light, the club music, the neatly stacked tracksuit bottoms, the homoerotic murals, the black floors.

It's formulaic but you know what they say; if it ain't broke...

Walking through the front door of the new College Green store, you're met by a shirtless greeter showing off his megawatt smile and washboard abs.

After he's welcomed you, a camera girl jumps in and asks you if you'd like a Polaroid picture to commemorate your visit.

Obviously, I obliged.

As you come through the door, that unforgettable Abercrombie scent hits you like a ten ton truck. I spot one of the managers spritzing the shop floor with a bottle of cologne.

"It's called Fierce," she says excitedly.

"We spray the store with it. It also comes as a male fragrance -- don't you just love it?"

Initially, I feel ancient walking around the shop. Everyone is fit and young, their skin's glowing, their eyes are gleaming, they're just perfect. So naturally, you start to resent them.

But then a strange thing happens. They talk to you and they're friendly. It starts to feel like you're back in school and the cool, popular kids have suddenly decided that you're cool and popular enough to be part of their clique.

And next thing you know, you're buying a fleece-lined body warmer for €98 and a pair of distressed denim jeans that you'll never wear.

It goes without saying that the sales pitch is all Americana.

In every nook and cranny, sales assistants greet you with a "Oh hey! What's up? Can I help you?" Everyone is pepped up with positivity, they're chirpy, helpful and very beautiful.

Greeters and models flex and flaunt their toned bodies as you wander about. But PR girl Mackenzie says a six pack is not mandatory for a job in the store. "You don't have to have a model's body to work here, but the greeters usually have pretty good abs."

"We're going for that All American rugged look," she continued. "Guys who look like they've been at a shooting lodge all week, hunting and fishing."

The US retailer flew in 50 male models who fit the 'hunting and fishing' job description last week to celebrate the store opening.

Since they arrived it's been non-stop work and working out for the boys, who all got week-long passes to Trinity Gym to help them keep their abs in tiptop shape.

"We haven't seen that much of the city yet," said Manchester-born Robert Johnson (20). "We're working every day from 11am till 4pm, and then in the evening we hit Trinity Gym. You're kind of expected to be in good shape if you're an A&F model."

Asked if 50 models lifting weights had caused a stir with local gym bunnies, Robert said they got a few stares. "Yeah -- a few heads turned all right."



Desperate

And the models are continuing to turn heads. Yesterday, schoolgirls crowded around the store, desperate to catch a glimpse of the interior. They looked crestfallen when they were told they would have to wait until tomorrow.

Having perused the shelves, I decided it was time to leave.

Plus, my head was started to hurt from all that cologne.

The new flagship store and sales assistants are a sight for sore eyes and even if shopping in the dark isn't your thing, watching the male models dancing in the dark definitely will be.

hnews@herald.ie


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