Work hard, play hard

The Limited was an American clothing company that owned a number of brands which helped define retail fashion in the 90s, among them Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret.

The design of their 2003 annual report is a simple affair.

A slim volume – in its dimensions and number of pages – it’s greatest strength is its photographic treatments.

The Limited effectively conveys two sides of the fashion industry – the hardworking people behind the scenes – everyone from the Chairman to the shop employees is photographed at work, sleeves metaphorically (and sometime literally) rolled up. These documentary images are then treated to look like Polaroids images – grainy, tilted, spontaneous.

The ‘Polaroids’ are used liberally throughout the report, often arranged in collages or showing two or three frames that capture a single moment.

The overall effect is of a busy company whose staff enjoy their work.

Set against these unguarded moments is the second photographic treatment – reprints of advertising and promotional images, often featuring supermodels of the day – Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christianson and Linda Evangelista make an appearance on the section opening pages. These imagesa re high-end fashion photographs, meticulously planned and glamorous. The effect of showing the end result and the hard work behind it, frequently on facing pages creates an engaging snapshot of The Limited’s work.

Text is kept to a minimum and the financials are compressed into as few pages as possible, making for a breezy read. The tone of voice in the text is unassuming and earnest – from the main narrative to the light humour of the captions on the ‘Polaroids’. The clever pairing of tone and photographic treatment shows a young company (The Limited was 30 in 2003) keen to make a change in their industry.

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