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!

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Comments

comments

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194 Responses to No Shirts

  1. I actually spoke with that older woman near the end of the video. She and her husband were walking by while I’m loitering outside. She stops and asks me why we’re all not wearing shirts. I tell her that I have no idea what everyone else is doing and instead that I just saw everyone else doing it and decided to take my own shirt off. Looks like she believed me.

  2. Jen says:

    Too funny!
    My friend who works at Abercrombie=Coorprate sent this to me. Brilliance, boys!

  3. Ace$Thugg says:

    A lady customer was suprised/aghast when I took my shirt off next to her for no apparent reason. She scoffed, and said to herself outloud “Ok, whateva!” while rolling her eyes. And then she turned around and there were 3 other guys with their shirt off behind her and she said “Oh god, this is so weird.” And then preceeded to walk away with her head down.

    Upon being asked to leave by the A&F staff, I informed them I took my shirt off because when I walked in I saw someone with their shirt off and thought it was okay for me to do the same. They informed me that the model in the front worked there and I didn’t. I said “ok, I’ll go shop for a shirt then.” And they let me walk away and shop for about 5 more minutes shirtless.

  4. katey says:

    the last 3rd of the images don’t load for me, just stay red x’s… sheesh, talk about a tease.

    p.s. great mission, the AF advertising inspired football shots are particularly awesome.

  5. Agent Drowsy Noodle says:

    I took my shirt off in the elevator along with a few other guys. One lady remarked to her husband, “I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

    I wondered if maybe they were from Kansas, and thought that this must be what New York is like all the time.

    Here’s to IE for working toward that goal.

  6. Agent Liza says:

    Congratulations on a wonderful and very funny mission.

    I hope the female only mission lets us keep our clothes on. It’s getting cold! Can’t wait.

  7. Agent Chopp says:

    Me and my wife drove in because my brother lives in NYC, and this was definitely one of the events that we had made sure was in our “weekend itinerary”.

    The prank had been something that my brother called me about as soon as he got the email, I guess, which told about the up-coming Improv Everywhere event this past Saturday, and I was immediately in with it. I spent some time the next few days exploring your website and past experiments, and was completely taken back by the creativity and hilarity of the things that the group did! We spent the time thinking about what the new “shirtless” experiment would entail, and each day we were more excited.

    Needless to say, although it wasn’t my sole reason for coming out to NYC, it is reason enough to come back!

  8. Agent Bubster says:

    Great Show Everyone! I love the word ‘predictabley’ when using the management and security words! Headline: ALIEN SHIRTLESS MEN INVADE ABACROMBIE & FITCH CLOTHERIE ACK! How persuasive! How enticing! How certainly safe and endearing! Poor management slobs, “Sorry, you can’t buy a shirt unless you are wearing one” Sheesh! Turning down money in a retail outlet! Was that an executive decision or Corporate?

    Imagine: Uh, Hello Corporate, this is the manager of store 47 and uh ,,, heh heh, we got a situation here at store 47! There are literally 50-100 shirtless men here, walking the store! Uh … what should we do? Yes, Shirtless!
    “No, they’re not really doing anything except … uh … shopping! Uhh, is that all right? It doesn’t seem normal. What? Ok, I will stop them from making any purchases! Good! Thanks for your Help!”

    One big Duh and a big DOH! for management!
    Another great idea, beautifully executed and fun all around, prank!

    Good JOB! These things always make my day!
    Agent Bubster

  9. Daphne says:

    How hypocritical A&F is!
    Never liked he place to start with.
    Now I know why!

  10. wes says:

    Idiots. What did you accomplish?

    You seemed to have forgotten to explain why you did this.

    And it no one in the comments I’ve read seems to know, either!

    Imbeciles!

  11. stroll says:

    I love all your missions, but this one takes the cake.

  12. Howard says:

    Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for another enjoyable mission.

  13. Agent Slobatch says:

    This mission was loads of fun to do.
    Wes, the reason we did this is the same reason that any of the Improv Everywhere missions were pulled off. The reason is to brighten other people’s days, and pull of non-offensive pranks. There doesn’t have to be a “point” beyond that.

    Employee: “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to either put on a shirt or be escorted out of the store.”
    Me: “But… I’m looking for a shirt…”
    Employee: “Where is the shirt that you came in?”
    Me: “That shirt was awful. Your shirts are way better.”
    (Then I walked away and continued to shop in another part of the floor, or on a different floor).

    Random Person: “What are you protesting?”
    IE Agent: “Shirts.”

    Can’t wait for the next mission.

    -Agent Slobatch

  14. I am so jealous of Agent Nicholson’s camera lenses!

    I wish I had taken better photos indoors. It was challenging. It was also challenging to look like I was “shopping.” How boring are those clothes? Now I see why they need to distract with the sex appeal. A&F is crappy sweatshirts on sexy shelving.

    It was fun walking around undercover, watching the guys act casual and listening to employees talk about how the shirtless thing must be “some kind of protest or something.”

    Fun mission!

  15. ChrisSketch says:

    Wes: “You seemed to have forgotten to explain why you did this.”

    Dammit, Marcel, why did you bolt a bike wheel to a stool? WHY? If you don’t have a real reason you’re wasting everyone’s time! What did that accomplish?? Imbecile!

  16. Lyrical says:

    I love the idea… it’s as creative as a good ad campaign but not so plastic. Kudos to Agent Nguyen.

  17. The Drunken Monkey says:

    Wes: Eat a overpriced commercialized sweatshop-labor produced dick.

  18. Maawee says:

    So…many…manipples….

    lovely, lovely. I love you, IE.

  19. Kung Foodie says:

    Dudez….you guys rawk!!! This is so awesome.

  20. I can’t believe, in this era of terrorism, that you guys didn’t even consider the well-being of the…. just kidding.

    Great mission! Simple and inspired, and 111 guys! Considering the moxie involved on the part of the participants, that is just incredible. My kudos to the bold shirtless men in this prank! That is awesome.

    If they hadn’t thrown you out, what was the exit strategy?