VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Abercrombie & Fitch said Monday that city police overreacted by confiscating two display photos of scantily clad men and a woman from one of its stores and citing the manager on a misdemeanor obscenity charge.
Police issued the summons Saturday after Abercrombie management did not heed warnings to remove the images from the Lynnhaven Mall store after some customers complained, police spokesman Adam Bernstein said.
One photograph showed three shirtless young men, with one man's upper buttocks showing. The other image was of a woman whose breast was mostly exposed, authorities said.
"The marketing images in question show less skin than you see any summer day at the beach. And certainly less than the plumber working on your kitchen sink," Abercrombie & Fitch said in a statement.
The clothing retailer, based in New Albany, Ohio, said it would pursue its legal rights aggressively and expected to prevail.
City code bars the display of "obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles," Bernstein said.
Bernstein said police charged the manager because there was no legal way to cite the company. If convicted, the manager faces a fine of up to $2,000 and as much as a year in jail.
The manager declined to comment.
Abercrombie & Fitch has earned a reputation for its risque catalogs and promotional photography featuring scantily clothed models.
In 2003, the company halted publication of its A&F Quarterly catalog after seven years. There had been complaints about sexually suggestive photographs, though Abercrombie spokesman Tom Lennox on Monday would not concede that was the reason the catalog's U.S. run ended. "The Quarterly just ran its course, and it was time for a new direction," Lennox said.
In 2004, the retailer agreed to pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the company of promoting whites over minorities and cultivating a virtually all-white image.