No Shirts

For our latest mission, 111 men of all shapes and sizes shopped shirtless in the Abercrombie and Fitch store on 5th Avenue here in New York. Enjoy the videos first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

Digital Video: Agents Shafer, Slocum, Reeves, EMartin, Todd, Lindquist
Digital Photography: Agents Nicholson, Fountain, Scott, Sokoler, Becket
Mission Inspired By: Agent Nguyen


Abercrombie’s hired model

Agent Nguyen came up with the idea for this mission when he noticed the 5th Avenue Abercrombie and Fitch store had a shirtless male model greeting all customers as they enter. Upon further examination, we discovered the model is only one aspect of the store’s celebration of the shirtless male. There are photographs all over the store of bare-chested men, both on the wall and on the products themselves.

There’s even a four-story tall mural of shirtless men working on boats.

To top it all, in the basement of the store, there’s a six-foot tall bronze statue of a shirtless man.

I sent out an email recruiting men willing to take their shirts off in public, and 111 agents showed up to the meeting point in Central Park. Everyone wore jeans and a shirt that would be easy to stuff into a pocket.

I explained to everyone what we’d be doing, and then the shirts came off for a very tasteful Abercrombie-style photo shoot coordinated by Agent Nicholson.


Shirts off!


The men played a giant game of football


Agent Ace$Thugg had the best running game


Some men lounged in the shade


Team huddle


Agent Hurricane Andrew (age 11), center, with football

During our photo shoot, a small crowd gathered to laugh and take their own photos.

After the photo shoot, we regrouped and got organized for the mission. There are four floors in the Abercrombie, so I divided everyone up into four groups by birthday month, to ensure we’d have an even number of men on each floor. Those on the second floor were out of luck, as they’d be shopping on the women’s only floor. I instructed them to claim to be shopping for their girlfriend. I then divided the group up by birthday year and had them enter the store at staggered times, to prevent an obvious line forming at the entrance. At exactly 4:37 everyone was to discreetly remove their shirt on their assigned floor and hide it in their pocket or pants. (We figured that if we had 100 people trying to enter the store shirtless, they’d probably stop letting us in after the first 20 or so slipped by.)

To get the best footage possible in the store, I wore the hidden camera glasses loaned to us by the UCB’s Matt Besser. Agents Nicholson and Shafer helped me connect it to a video camera and hide it away in my backpack.

Around 4:15 we all started heading down to the store. We had 11 people taking photos and video, spread out over the four floors. Five of them were women; we figured they could get away with blatantly filming and taking photographs more easily, especially if they dressed like typical Abercrombie customers.

Our men used a variety of tactics. Agent Shafer had his video camera hiding in a Virgin Megastore bag.

Agent Nicholson had his still camera poking out of a duffle bag, controlled by a wireless remote.


Agent Nicholson’s self-portrait using the wireless remote in his left hand

Agent Fountain went with a more casual approach, simply hanging his camera around his neck and taking photos when no one was looking.


Agent Fountain pretends to shop

Agent CScott was the first to take his shirt off. He thought the go-time was 4:30 and accidentally pulled the trigger 7 minutes early.


Agent CScott

He slowly realized he was the only one and that he must have gotten the time wrong, but decided just to roll with it. Employees didn’t seem to care. In fact, one went and checked on a size for him without even commenting on his bare chest.

At 4:37 the other 110 joined in on the fun. Within seconds everywhere you looked there were shirtless men.

I instructed everyone to simply mill about the store and shop. I told them that if anyone asked questions, to just claim that you’re shopping for a shirt.

Customers and employees very quickly started reacting to us. The majority of them laughed, smiled, and took photos.


A customer laughs


An employee laughs


Customers watch from the stairs

Those employees in management and security were predictably not as amused.

It’s tough to say what the model himself thought of us. He had a variety of reactions over the course of the mission. He was positioned in front of a wall at the entrance, so when the first couple of shirtless guys approached him, he had no knowledge that there were 100 more behind him in the store. He was very aggressive towards these first two agents. It probably didn’t help that the two guys happened to be both taller and more sculpted than he was. “At least I get paid to do this,” he scoffed at them.

He seemed to loosen up later, as he smiled and happily posed for photos with other guys who came by.


The model was happy laugh and joke around with Agent Uncle for a full minute

Back in the store, agents continued shopping, with some trying on items of clothing, looking for a perfect fit.

Agents on the second floor were forced to browse through women’s clothing.

Another interesting thing about Abercrombie is the mannequins. For some reason, almost all of the male mannequins have their jeans pulled down quite a bit below the waist. There’s a bulge poking out of the tops of the jeans, which if you think about it could only anatomically represent the shaft of a penis. Crazy!


Notice the bulge in the background

One agent sat underneath the statue and mimicked its pose.

After about 15 minutes, the Abercrombie management decided it was time to kick us out. Security employees started approaching all of our men and asking them to either put a shirt on or leave. They informed us that the model was a paid employee and his state of undress didn’t justify ours. So despite the fact that the store constantly bombards you with the image of the shirtless male, Abercrombie still maintains a “No Shirts; No Service” policy. Some agents protested that they were trying to buy a shirt, but the staff countered with the not-so-logical, “If you put on a shirt then you can buy a shirt.” Many agents just politely agreed to leave and then walked to another floor to shop some more, getting asked to leave several times before finally heading out.

Two agents were actually stopped while in the process of checking out! They were waiting in line for 10 minutes to buy some $45 shirts, only to be grabbed at the register. One of them was in the process of handing over his credit card as he was nabbed and informed he wasn’t allowed to make a purchase!


Caught in the act of buying!


An agent is asked to leave

The stairs got very crowded as agents started heading towards the exit.


Agent Nguyen, center

Everyone leaving the store at the same time created a whole new scene out on the street as 5th Avenue soon became filled with half-naked men.

Many passing tourists asked if they could get their photo taken with our men.

Others just looked on and laughed.

Everyone had their own theory on what had happened. A British woman told me, “One guy took his shirt off, you know as a rib on the model out front. Then all these other guys saw him and decided to take their shirts off too! One did it, and then they all did!” It was a pretty awesome theory, so I smiled and laughed with her without revealing the truth. Her version of events was much cooler than the truth.

Of course not everyone was as impressed. One guy took a drag off his cigarette and coolly told me, “They’re all just fat asses who are mad because they couldn’t get a job at Abercrombie.” His friends laughed and snapped photos.

Mission Accomplished.


OTHER RESOURCES:

PHOTOS
Agent Nicholson’s Flickr photoset (highlights only) (18 photos)

Agent Nicholson’s Flickr photoset (full) (156 photos)

Agent Fountain’s Flickr photoset (97 photos)

Agent Scott’s Flickr photoset (77 photos)

Agent Sokoler’s Flickr photoset (69 photos)

MERCH
If YOU happen to be without a shirt, why check out some of the brand new Improv Everywhere T-Shirts? We think they’re even cooler than Abercrombie’s fall line!

AGENT REPORTS
Add your own report in the comments if you were there!

If this is your first time here:
-our over 100 other missions can be seen here: Missions
-sign up for our RSS feed and Newsletter
-Subscribe to our YouTube channel, Twitter, and Facebook page.
-We have a book for sale!

Comments

comments

This entry was posted in Missions. Bookmark the permalink.

194 Responses to No Shirts

  1. Steven Nguyen says:

    great! it’s been a while

  2. Renata says:

    Hey there, great job!!! Too bad women couldn’t be included :( The policy at A&F does now definitely seem to be incredibly hypocritical. Congrats on yet another sucessful mission!

  3. Arthur Wei says:

    Woot 2nd Post
    This is what i get for constantly refreshing everyday.
    The mission was absolutely amazing. Lots of fun.
    Love the Agent interviews
    Cheers

    -Agent Crunchy

  4. Marisa says:

    As a female I greatly approve of this mission.

  5. Scott Grella says:

    Its nice when you start to see yourself in the pictures and videos after being a fan of the site so long. What a fun mission it was.

    :-)

  6. Cool mission — wish I could have participated. And the response gives me another reason not to shop at A&F, as if the corporate racism/lookism wasn’t bad enough.

  7. J says:

    I can’t believe I forgot about this mission…I’m so disappointed that I missed it.

  8. Was glad to have participated.
    Just an afterthought – a mission like this might be better in a warmer month than October – nipples that hard could hurt someone!

  9. I had to pass on this mission because I thought I would be out of town…but now, oh how I wish to have been there!

  10. John Tomblin says:

    I would love to be in a mission….just not one involving shirt or lack thereof.

    Honestly I wish they included the e-mails with an embarrassment meter just so we know what we’re getting ourselves into. For instance moving is slow motion will get you some attention but its not really embarrassing. Meanwhile listen to an invisible voice is a little embarrassing. Naturally partially undressing in public is significantly more embarrassing -_-.

  11. Agent North says:

    This was a fun mission, and the first for me. I must say it was challenging to figure out what clothes were mens’ and what were womens’. They’re all so similar there! It was really funny being in the basement though, and all of the sudden in this fluid motion, guys start taking their shirts off one by one, as if a fever was spreading. I didn’t last very long; an employee with a very suspicious angelic voice (the kind that tries to sound nice and fails miserably) asked me to put my shirt back on within a few minutes. Then in the same voice she asked me to leave after I had already put it back on. Either way, it was fun to be a part of it. Looking forward to the next mission!

  12. Agent Pete says:

    Awesome mission. It was a joy to participate. Can’t wait for the next one!

  13. vinnie says:

    That was the hottest thing since sunburn, and Abercrombie and Fitch didn’t eat it up?

    The best free public advertising for a company and they acted like typical yuppie scum.

    If I had worked there, I would’ve gave out free shirts just for the publicity.

    I’d definitly give the security the axe for stopping the show.

  14. Scott says:

    One of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time! Great job guys.

  15. George Burdell says:

    Beyond brilliant. This ties the best buy one for my top favorite spot.

  16. Hi Charlie and co.-agents.

    Beautiful to see so many different forms, shapes, sizes of men’s chest.
    Funny to see how your men also ‘pose’ in front of the camera like models do, wanting to give the best shot for the ladies i suppose.
    Thank you,

    Karoline,
    CPH, Denmark.

  17. Dave says:

    Actually, Women can be included, don’t NYC laws permit toplessness by women?

  18. Sarah Bandy says:

    That was so funny!!!!!! I wish I could have been there. I don’t know how I came to your site but I will book mark it. I get a feeling that you will do something even better to top this, although this one was FANTASTIC.

  19. Mike says:

    Hysterical. Nicely done.

    Abercrombie should train its employees not to commit battery when escorting unwanted guests from the property. Had I been there, I would not have appreciated their hands on my person.

  20. Agent C says:

    This was very fun! My favorite moment was when we were all in the store, minutes before “take off”, wandering around, seeing tons of men in t-shirts and jeans, and not knowing who was participating and who wasn’t.