Some of Weber’s other earliest fashion photography appeared in the SoHo Weekly News and featured a spread of men wearing only their underwear. The photos became the centre of controversy and Weber was told by some that he would never find work as a fashion photographer again. How wrong they were as Weber has become one of the most successful photographers, even turning his hand at film making. Weber also created the fashion label Weberbilt in 2003; his first line, “eat, swim, sex, sleep”, went on sale in boutiques in London and Florida.
It’s no wonder then that American giant Abercrombie & Fitch wanted to capitalise upon Weber’s popularity and enlisted him to help with their photoshoots. The campaigns are fresh, youthful and athletic. Each image, from colour to tonal has a sort of washed fuzzy glow across it (that’s a technical term don’t you know) which makes the image extremely dreamy. Something that, we’re sure, is definitely intentional. Abercrombie have constantly marketed their products as only available to a very niche market, the American elite, the popular kids, the jocks, the beautiful ones. By blurring out the images, or adding a filter mean it’s less real and therefore less attainable. Aspirational if you will.
In 1997, Abercrombie and Weber created an Abercrombie & Fitch lifestyle magazine entitled ‘A&F Quarterly’, It mainly featured images by Bruce, plus product by the brand, interspersed with a variety of articles on lifestyle, sex, entertainment, travel, dining, and celebrity interviews. It was controversial to say the least, but both photographer and brand were used to this, but boy was it popular. The Quarterly’s inclusion of nudity and sexuality had been a continual controversial topic but many critics responded positively with it being cited as “an ingenious marketing tool, the envy of the publishing world”, which “redefined the All-American look for teenagers”. The magazine ended it’s run in 2003, but made a few appearances as one of issues after.
Weber also directed visual ad campaigns for the brand, which were branded as very homoerotic. Men wrestling in the sand, and general boisterous fighting all contributed to the final cut, but there was no denying it wasn’t beautiful. Because that’s the thing, Bruce Weber is an artist through and through. He so clearly inspires other photographers, and his concept has been recycled many times, but there’s something that Bruce can capture that others can’t. He has a real eye for it, which is why his images stand the test of time. They’re not dated. They can pass for vintage and modern, all rolled into one, depending on the subject or the context in which they’re published.
Throughout their working relationship, Bruce met some of the infamous Abercrombie models turned actors. Most notably Channing Tatum, Jennifer Lawrence, Kellan Lutz, Penn Badgley, Olivia Wilde and Nikki Reed amongst others. With their obvious good looks, and Weber’s super talented skills, it’s no wonder that the majority of them made it big. We can imagine that many model scouts in America just head to the Abercrombie & Fitch stores every few months. After all, the brand are famous for using their own employees as models for the campaign! See, even their stores are an elite bunch…