Brand of the Day: Abercrombie & Fitch
Welcome to Brand of the Day, where we pick the company making headlines for the day and explain five elements you need to know about what has happened for them to be in the news.
Today we feature a clothing retailer that has come under fire for its allegedly discriminatory hiring practises.
1) The brand
Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in New York in the 1892. The brand originally marketed itself toward outdoorsmen, but shifted its focus to young adults in the late 80s. The recent economic recession battered the brand, dropping its stocks from $84.23 in 2007 to $14.64 a year later.
2) The ‘models’
Abercrombie’s hiring practises have often been questioned. Until April, front-of-store workers were called ‘models’ and were hired largely in part to their physical appearances, citing its ‘look policy.’ In 2004, the brand settled in a class-action lawsuit which claimed it most offered ‘model’ positions to white males and often discriminated against African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and women.
3) Michael Jeffries
One of the many reasons for the brand’s strict look-based policies was its long-time chief executive officer (CEO), Mike Jeffries. Jeffries publically said that Abercrombie was discriminatory “because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people.” Abercrombie, he said, was only for “cool kids.”
4) The rebrand
After losing the admiration of many of its teenage customers, the brand decided it needed a rebrand. Its first step was to get rid of Jeffries, whose worldviews had become synonymous with the brand. It announced in April that it would no longer hire people based on their looks, and that it would desexualize its image.
5) The girl with the headscarf
While Abercrombie seems genuine about its new image, a discriminatory choice from 2008 has come back to haunt it. In 2008, Samantha Elauf was rejected from a job at the retailer because she wears a hijab. The head scarf, of course, went against the ‘look policy.’ After a lengthy back-and-forth, the Supreme Court yesterday voted, 8-1 that Elauf can accuse the brand of discrimination based on its disapproval of her headdress.