What fragrance does Abercrombie use in their store?

Abercrombie & Fitch is known for using a signature fragrance in their retail stores to create a distinctive shopping experience. The specific fragrance they use has been a much discussed topic over the years. Customers often comment on the strong, musky scent that hits you when you first walk into an Abercrombie store. So what exactly is that memorable fragrance?

The Original Abercrombie & Fitch Fragrance

When Abercrombie & Fitch first began using a signature scent in their stores in the late 1990s, the fragrance was simply called Fierce. This men’s cologne was developed exclusively for the brand by the company Internatio​nal Flavors & Fragrances.

The Fierce fragrance for Abercrombie contains notes of:

  • Top notes: Orange, lemon, sea minerals, pettigrain
  • Heart notes: Lily-of-the-valley, rosemary, jasmine, marigold
  • Base notes: Olibanum, oakmoss, musk, fir resin

This combination of citrusy top notes, lightly floral heart notes, and woodsy base notes creates a bold, masculine scent. The heavy use of musk and oakmoss gives it an earthy, sensual quality.

Updated Abercrombie Fragrances

Over the years since the original Fierce cologne, Abercrombie & Fitch has introduced additional signature fragrances into their stores.

In 2004, they released a new scent called Woods. As the name suggests, this fragrance contains more woody and green notes such as cedarwood, vetiver, and moss. It has a fresh, outdoorsy vibe compared to the musky Fierce.

2011 saw the introduction of the women’s scent Fierce for Her. It complements the original men’s cologne with similar notes like orange, rosemary, and musk, while adding feminine touches of jasmine flower, pink pepper, and amber wood.

Some of Abercrombie’s other popular in-store fragrances over the years have included:

  • City Rain
  • Light Blue
  • Berrywood
  • Mtn Rain
  • First Instinct
  • Coastline

The company aims to update their signature scents seasonally to keep things feeling fresh. Their fragrance catalogue brings new options into rotation while also keeping some customer favorites around.

Purpose of the Abercrombie Fragrance

Abercrombie doesn’t just use their signature scents lightly in stores – it is sprayed liberally throughout the retail spaces to create an immersive, scent-driven ambiance. Customers have noted that you can often smell an Abercrombie store before you see it in the mall.

The heavy use of fragrance serves a few purposes for the brand:

  • It makes the store memorable. People associate the smell with the Abercrombie shopping experience.
  • It gives each store a distinctive mood or personality.
  • It helps customers recall feelings they had while shopping there.
  • It represents the youthful, carefree vibe the brand tries to project.
  • It differentiates them from other retailers.

Research in retail atmospherics has shown that the right scent can evoke emotions, increase customer enjoyment, and influence buyer behavior. Abercrombie’s signature fragrances help attract their target youth customers into stores and get them into the mood to buy.

Fragrance Pumping Systems

Abercrombie goes to great lengths to pump their trademark scents throughout their retail spaces. It requires specially-designed fragrance ventilation systems to keep the smell constant and strong.

According to employees who have worked at Abercrombie, each store has its own “scent system” pumping fragrance through the air vents. The systems are normally hidden away in back rooms and managed by computerized controls.

There are also separate fragrance machines that direct concentrated room sprays in timed intervals across different zones of the store. Usually the entrance, fitting rooms, and cash wrap area get the strongest and most frequent scent bursts.

In addition, staff spray fragrance directly onto merchandise, marketing materials, and even their own bodies! All combined, it creates the powerful, unmistakable scent-filled atmosphere Abercrombie desires.

Public Reaction

The heavy use of fragrance by Abercrombie & Fitch has garnered some mixed public reactions over the years. Some customers find it pleasant and get a nostalgic hit from the signature smell.

However, others have complained that it is overpowering, causes headaches, and makes it difficult for people with scent sensitivities to shop there. It also attracts a lot of attention, with some finding it off-putting or distracting as they shop.

Some public health advocates have raised concerns that the strong scents could potentially trigger allergic reactions or asthma symptoms in those sensitive to perfumes. But so far Abercrombie has not changed their signature approach.

The scent also leads to olfactory fatigue where people stop noticing it after a while. Abercrombie employees say they get used to the constant smell at work, but get reminded of it when they leave and the fragrance lingers on their clothes and hair.

The bold scent strategy may be divisive, but it does achieve the goal of making the brand unforgettable. People may love it or hate it, but they certainly remember the Abercrombie fragrance experience.

Fierce Cologne Controversies

Over the years, Abercrombie’s signature Fierce cologne sparked some specific controversies in addition to general complaints about the heavy in-store scenting:

Trademark Lawsuits

Abercrombie was sued by fashion designer Christian Audigier in 2009 for allegedly copying his Ed Hardy Hearts and Daggers fragrance. According to Audigier, Fierce too closely resembled Hearts and Daggers.

They settled out of court in 2010, with Abercrombie agreeing to make changes to Fierce to distinguish it from the Ed Hardy scent. However, they did not have to pay damages.

Ingredient Scrutiny

Analysis of the Fierce cologne found it contained a high concentration of synthetic musks. These ingredients were legal, but started to receive scrutiny due to potential health and environmental impacts.

Advocacy groups called on Abercrombie to reformulate Fierce to remove the controversial musk components. However, the company maintained the ingredients were safe and made no changes.

Teen Marketing Concerns

Some parents and consumer groups raised concerns about the brand’s practice of spraying Fierce cologne on teens visiting the stores. They felt directly scenting underage youth played too much into the sexualized image Abercrombie promoted.

Critics argued that the sensory nature of the fragrance crossed a line, exposing minors to something potentially influential on mood and behavior. Abercrombie disagreed their scent practices targeted or endangered teens.

Despite some backlashes, the iconic Fierce remained the core of Abercrombie’s signature scent program for over 15 years. It created an indelible olfactory association with the brand among a generation of mall shoppers.

Impact on Brand Image

The scent pumped throughout Abercrombie & Fitch stores goes hand-in-hand with the sensual, youthful image the retailer portrays.

The combination of dim lighting, dance music, attractive staff, and copious fragrance spraying all work together to bring the essence of the brand to life within their retail spaces.

While Abercrombie has made efforts to tone down some of the more overtly sexual components of their branding over time, the signature scent remains a key part of the customer experience.

Provocative or not, Abercrombie’s use of fragrance has proven memorable and effective over decades. Customers might visit them less than in the early 2000s, but when they do, the smell of Fierce still takes them right back to being a teen in an A&F store.


Abercrombie & Fitch stores are easily recognizable by their signature fragrance presence. Although specific scents vary, they often contain Fierce or Fierce for Her along with seasonal options. The constant fragrance pumping creates an immersive, sensory experience that appeals to youth customers.

Some may find it overwhelming or exclusionary. But fragrance remains core to Abercrombie’s brand identity. When customers catch a whiff of their stores, it instantly conjures up nostalgic memories and emotions tied to the retailer. Even if you do not see the logo, your nose knows when you are near an Abercrombie.

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