The beautiful people, the beautiful people! When was the last time you heard about customers paying for a company's catalog?

After years of stagnating same-store sales, Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) is bringing back some images that made it (in)famous, and asking customers to pay for the privilege of viewing them. The flashy teen retailer has resurrected its risque A&F Quarterly catalog after seven years in limbo.

The company stopped the catalog in 2003, after complaints about its sexually suggestive images. Now, A&F is asking $10 for preorders of the catalog, which will be available July 17th.

For years, A&F has played itself as the store for the beautiful people, even as its results of the last few years have been anything but pretty. The purveyor of high-priced chic had stubbornly refused to lower prices, and sales stalled, even as lower-priced rivals such as Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO) and the The Buckle (NYSE: BKE) snagged cost-conscious teens at the malls. Rivals' outperformance was especially noticeable during the recession. Finally, A&F relented on prices, offering modest cuts. Year to date through May, Abercrombie's same-store sales were up 1%, and revenue climbed a healthy 13%.

Can the catalog help revitalize the company's operations? Certainly, returning to the glory years with a strategy that seemed to provide A&F a magnetic attraction shows some promise. But all the sexy imagery in the world won't coax purchases if they're not affordable. And with the economy teetering on the edge, discretionary retailers -- high-priced and low-priced alike -- hardly look like safe investments.

Fool contributor Jim Royal, Ph.D., does not own shares of any company mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.