All Articles Tagged "Abercrombie & Fitch"
After weeks (one could say years) of bad press and controversy over comments made by company execs and an overall exclusionary attitude, it looks like Abercrombie & Fitch is getting its comeuppance. The company announced that sales had dropped 17 percent for the first quarter of this year. According to The Huffington Post, the numbers were falling before the controversies erupted, but sales certainly won’t be helped by the scandals. The CEO of the company, Mike Jeffries, says a lack of inventory was the problem.
“It took a little bit longer than anticipated to flow in some of our spring deliveries,” Reuters quotes Jeffries, who spoke during a conference call on Friday. The company has cut sales forecasts for he year as well.
Just last week, Abercrombie issued an apology after teens protested outside the company’s Ohio headquarters. They asked the company to start selling larger sizes (above a 10 and a Large), to cut down on its racy ads, and to focus on anti-bullying and diversity efforts. The company’s statement, after meeting with the students, read, “We look forward to continuing this dialogue and taking concrete steps to demonstrate our commitment to anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion. We want to reiterate that we sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by comments we have made in the past which are contrary to these values.”
The question is, will it help?
Actually, this time it’s Abercrombie’s company Hollister that’s stepped in it. A federal judge has ruled that the company violates the Americans With Disabilities Act with its porch front stores and blocked ramps.
“A company spokesman said that the raised entrances were designed to create ‘an entry to a house in Southern California that you would walk up onto the porch or walk down into the porch, to enter, like you would do at a beach house,’” reports The Daily Mail.
Julie Farrar, who is in a wheelchair, tried to enter a Hollister store in Colorado. There are stairs out front, but the retailer says there are ramps off to the side. Unfortunately, the doors that those ramps lead to are blocked by tables inside the store. And, Farrar says, going through a side door isn’t fair. (Indeed.) “She said that in school using a wheelchair meant she was effectively segregated from other students. She remembers her family being asked to leave restaurants, movie theaters and shops because she ‘was considered a fire and safety hazard,’” quotes Jezebel.
The case ultimately goes back to 2009 when both Hollister and Abercrombie were sued by several people for violation of the Act. Since then, the only store remaining from the original suit was one in Colorado (others in the state have since increased wheelchair accessibility). Then it turned into a class action suit in 2012 against 248 Hollister stores in the US. The company was ordered to bring the stores up to compliance and, in three months, hadn’t.
The message we get from these repeated stories of discrimination and bad policy: Abercrombie and Hollister just don’t see anything wrong with being jerks.
In the past week we’ve seen and heard some of the most questionable things from CEOs — from Abercrombie & Fitch’s Mike Jeffries to Amy and Samy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company on Kitchen Nightmares. If you’ve wondered how people with clear disregard for proper customer service or continued practice in discrimination are still able to hold executive positions in this world, I don’t have all the answers for you. However I do have ten gems of wisdom if you decide to run your own business or another’s company one day. Read on!
Clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch has been the subject of salacious news headlines in the past. Now the retailer is caught in a maelstrom of gossip again as one of its brand managers made it known that their clothes are not made to be worn by just anyone. “Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t want to create the image that just anybody, poor people, can wear their clothing. Only people of a certain stature are able to purchase and wear the company name”, the manager stated.
In response to the controversy, company CEO Greg Karber released a statement, available on Clutch:
“I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offence. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterisations or other anti-social behaviour based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics.”
For some, the statement isn’t enough. Writer Greg Karber created a campaign called @FitchThe Homeles that declares “Let’s rebrand A&F together.” If you have any unwanted clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, you can donate to this cause, which will then provide the clothes to the homeless.
Given this most recent dust up, comments Jeffries made in a 2006 interview for an article on Salon seem prescient. At the time he said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
Do you shop at A&F?
When Looks Matter: Wet Seal, Abercrombie & Fitch And The Reality Of Appearance-Based Discrimination By Retailers
According to published reports, Wet Seal Inc., the chain-retail store headquartered in Foothill Ranch, Calif., will have to pay $7.5 million dollars to settle a racial-discrimination lawsuit, which had been filed by three black women, who accused the chain clothing store of terminating them because they did not fit the brand image.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, evidence in the lawsuit included e-mails and witness testimony from former Wet Seal managers, which “allegedly showed high-level Wet Seal executives instructing managers to fire African American employees, and “diversify” by hiring and promoting white employees “who fit the Wet Seal brand image.” The case was also bolstered by a ruling by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which determined that Wet Seal had racially discriminated against one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. However, the Inquirer reports that Wet Seal denies the allegations in the lawsuit and calls the settlement a “no-fault resolution of the case.”
The settlement may put to bed this particular racial discrimination case, but it also sheds light on a rarely discussed practiced form of appearance-based discrimination. This idea that it is okay to exclude individuals, whose physical characteristics do not fit the standard of a business or other organization, is the basis of all forms of discrimination including racial, gender-based, and sexual orientation-based discrimination. And while Wet Seal denies culpability in racial-discrimination practices, the idea that the retail chain might have been looking to promote and hire based on its physical image is equally as troubling. And if true, unfortunately, they would not be alone in the practice.
Just last week, Business Insider reported on Abercrombie & Fitch’s refusal to make clothing in sizes XL or XXL for women (nor does it carry women’s pants sizes larger than a 10), and according to retail analyst Robin Lewis, Mike Jeffries, CEO of the retail clothing chain, only wants “thin and beautiful” people shopping in his store. The Business Insider story also referenced a 2006 piece in Salon, in which Jeffries was quoted as saying the following:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Jeffries’ business acumen of projecting and appealing to an “exclusive” clientele might be at the source of how the clothing chain store found itself dead smack at the center of two private class action lawsuits filed by nine former employees, who accused Abercrombie & Fitch of discrimination against Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, and women. According to published reports, the plaintiffs said that they were prohibited from working the sales floor because they did not fit the “Abercrombie look,” and instead were told to work in back storage rooms. The suit was settled in 2004 for $50 million dollars and a Consent Decree, which legally enjoined Abercrombie & Fitch to develop and implement internal policies and procedures, which guarded against discriminating against applicants based upon race, color and gender.
More and more, states and local municipalities are growing hip to the subtle ways in which discrimination operates, including Michigan, which became the first state to add weight and height to its anti-discrimination employment laws, and Washington D.C., which prohibits all forms of personal appearance discrimination. While wanting to project an exclusive image is not unusual in brand marketing, particularly the marketing of apparel, when a company sets its sights on appealing to such a niche market, it opens itself up to creating and perpetuating an environment where prejudice is acceptable. Nowadays, you don’t have to say blacks and Hispanics are not welcome – you can just decline employment, or even a customer base, from those with certain physical attributes, such as body shape, hairstyles, or who don’t look like the cool kids in high school – unless of course you went to a high school with black and Hispanic people in it.
Abercrombie & Fitch is no stranger to controversy, but their drama is usually about half-naked prepubescents not race matters. According to the preppy clothing giant that’s because it has nothing to do with this latest scandal.
Yesterday, the above screenshot of A&F’s cargo pants available in n***er brown popped up on the Internet and immediately set people off. Luckily, it seemed too ridiculous to be true, and in a way it is. The site isn’t Abercrombie’s official website, it’s abercrombie-and-fitchoutlet.com, one of several impostor sites that sells Abercrombie-like knock-offs. According to Styleite, the fake website was registered to a Hong Kong email address and Gawker says the use of the N-word was likely due to a poor Chinese-English translation program.
Just to be sure no one blames the real Abercrombie and Fitch for this, the company made this declaration:
“We do not condone racist language. This is a counterfeit website and we have initiated legal proceedings to shut it down.”
A&F’s legal team moves fast; abercrombie-and-fitchoutlet.com has already been shut down along with any chance of buying these brown cargo knock-offs. If only we could shut down real racism that quickly.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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What would you do if, thinking you are a hot commodity, one of your favorite labels put out a statement telling the world it hates being associated with you? This is the situation that “The Situation” is facing this morning. Millions are gaping and guffawing today at the news that Abercrombie & Fitch hates the reality star, who often wears the brand on the wildly popular series “Jersey Shore.” Unfortunately the ridiculous antics of The Situation that have brought him tons of fans are not seen so favorably by Abercrombie’s brand managers, who had this to say:
“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image,” a representative from A&F’s brand senses department wrote. “We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and the producers of MTV’s The Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”
Newser also reports that other cast members of “Jersey Shore” have been offered tidy sums to stop wearing A&F. The Situation was singled out because he does so with the most frequency, often displaying the Abercrombie label on his briefs when famously flashing his abs.