If you are a teenager or a college student in the 2000s, you will definitely remember stores Abercrombie and Fitch: Nothing like this had ever been seen before they arrived. For better or for worse. Long queues to get in, windows darkened so as not to show from the inside, well-trained men strictly without shirts, in only jeans and slippers at the entrance. When, in 2009 in Milan, the first and only opened Abercrombie store in Italy It was an event. Ten years later it was closed. MORE: The brand has Failed.
How could a 2000s clothing brand icon, beloved by kids who wanted to feel stylish and casual at the same time, fail? The Movie White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitchon Netflix From April 19, explain why.
Abercrombie and Fitch As we know it, it was launched on the market in 1996. In fact, the brand has already been around for a hundred years: the dream of an American man in the late 19th century, a lover of sports and outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing. Loyal clients include Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway.
It was discovered in 1992 from Mike JeffriesAnd CEO of Abercrombie, the Californian businessman shaped it in his own image and likeness. Brand keywords: “Natural, American, Classic”. That is: natural, American and classic. Jeffries has taken Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren’s approach, sporty and casual, setting prices high but not too high (so they’re affordable for guys who have less money to spend), and making everything sexier by using sex to sell.
So far, nothing the others haven’t already done. Abercrombie & Fitch’s business management guidelines were pretty poor. Mike Jeffries wanted the brand to be “ambitious,” and that’s desirable: Young people had to be all that Abercrombie stood for. Herein lies the basic problem: What does Abercrombie & Fitch stand for? As a reporter says in Movie White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch:
They managed to crystallize everything I hated in high school and put it in a store.
Another goes (rightly) heavier:
That’s all we don’t want America to be.
Abercrombie and Fitch went bankrupt because it was proudly racist
There is no exact way to say it: Abercrombie and Fitch went bankrupt because it was proudly racist. CEO Mike Jeffries, in a 2006 Salon interview that marked its last meltdown, stated:
We don’t want everyone to wear our clothes. We sell all American style. The world is divided into great men and not-so-great men. We are interested in cool things.
Leaving aside a lack of entrepreneurial wisdom (precluding huge market segments is not a smart move when your job is to sell a product), when the documentary White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch He explains what it means for Jeffreys to be “cool” is shivering.
“The personification of the Abercrombie spirit” is intended to be: white, young, slim, athletic, preferably male. You may have noticed: on bags and hanging in stores, there were practically only half the lengths of males. At the entrance to the shop, only men were there to take pictures with customers. It is no coincidence that photos are taken in catalog and advertising campaigns Bruce Weberknown for favoring this kind of beauty (and being accused of harassment by some Abercrombie models, which is another reason not to favor the brand).
There were specific guidelines for staffing: Staff were provided with a complete illustrated instruction book. In the documentary, we see at one time that under the heading “What is attractive and what is unattractive” the image of a blond boy with a neat haircut was compared next to the image of a black boy with braids.
This does not only apply to advertising campaign templates. But also for shop assistants. And for the cleaners. And for the employees of the company. Selection criteria gave more weight to aesthetics than efficiency, and unacceptable to the breed.
White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, the Netflix movie trailer
White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, an Exclusion Brand
If you’ve been to Abercrombie & Fitch at least once, you can’t carelessly remember the experience. Unnecessarily long files to create a sense of event. A pungent, unpleasant odor spreads everywhere and sticks to it. Vendors who, instead of helping you choose, put you down, literally leaving you in the dark, because the lights were intentionally low. Virtually every customer service employee’s nightmare.
This is also required: A former Abercrombie employee describes the brand’s success as:
There’s a reason people love Abercrombie: It’s because exclusion is part of our society.
CEO Mike Jeffries had a dream: to surround himself only with handsome, white, and athletic young men. To realize this dream, he created a brand targeting students between the ages of 18 and 22. Abercrombie’s private residence, a gigantic building, is built like a college campus: the staff dress up as models, and they throw parties every day. And they created T-shirts with fake slogans and graffiti like:
Wong Brothers Laundry: Two Angels Can Make It White
This is it: Wong Brothers Wash: Two Wongs can be white. Other writings make fun of Mexicans, compared to donkeys. In short, arguing for the pursuit of “all-American” beauty, Abercrombie has been spreading racist propaganda for years.
A black girl hired to clean a store witnessed how they made her work at night so she wouldn’t be seen. A Filipino boy narrates in the movie that he was told he couldn’t be hired because there were already too many blacks in the store. This situation led to protests by students of Asian descent in front of shops in 2002 and a class action by former employees of different ethnic backgrounds, which cost the company $40 million.
Suddenly, from a brand identified as “cool and desirable,” Abercrombie & Fitch became the uniform of white supremacists and racists. It is no coincidence that Sam Al-Raymi is in his own country Spider Manthe 2002 film starring Tobey Maguire, dressed as an Abercrombie school bully from head to toe.
In just a few years, out-of-store protests turned into online petitions to boycott Abercrombie: a negative word that caused the brand to lose not only customers, but also its reputation.
Abercrombie and Fitch: What happened to Mike Jeffries?
Abercrombie and Fitch was boycotted before social media went viral. Continuing on this line today would be out of the question. In fact, since 2014, Mike Jeffries is no longer the CEO of the company, which is trying in every way to create a new identity.
While the new Abercrombie has brought smell and darkness out of stores and aims to listen to customers, modeling all shapes and colors in photos, Mike Jeffries, aged 77 nowhe underwent several surgeries that changed his facial features, and also a search for that “all-American” beauty that backfired.