Tag Archives: Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch Has Become Totally Uncool Boo Hoo

 

It’s pretty funny that Abercrombie & Fitch, home to giant logos and egos is now closing down stores left and right, getting rid of their logos, slashing prices and trying to appeal to the masses instead of just the “cool” people it has been vying for since 1992.

Their last few earnings reports have been as dark and gloomy as their once shuttered-windowed stores that reeked of cologne and uber’ preppy-ness (probably not a word but you get the picture). Their 70 year-old flip-flop wearing plastic-faced CEO Mike Jeffries, has evidently seen the light. The shutters have come off the windows, which were intended for a closed/club atmosphere, the cologne that was sprayed everywhere is supposedly gone and the logo clothing will be gone in U.S. stores sometime in 2014.

Abercrombie & Fitch was the “cool” brand a decade and a half ago. Sales of its preppy clothes was in the billions. Teens had ranked it as the sixth coolest brand, and its then newly launched surfer-lifestyle line, Hollister Co., was an instant hit when it opened.  But now, with stores like H&M and Zara  among many others offering trendy clothing at cheap prices,  Abercrombie wants to win back its base,  according to Jeffries. This could be hard because their base was the “cool” I love logos and overpriced clothing people. Shoppers today (even if they are using their parent’s money) aren’t going to pay $70 for a pair of Abercrombie jeans when they can get a pair they like for $10 elsewhere.  They also have a decade of bad PR and exclusionary hiring practices to overcome.  And parents have always hated their overtly sexual ad campaigns for teens, they have stopped such ads but the memory still lingers for many.

Abercrombie settled for $50 million in 2004 after being sued for discrimination against racial minorities. Last year, quotes made by Jeffries during a 2006 interview resurfaced; he had said the brand targeted “cool, good-looking people,” a statement that generated heavy, even viral backlash. (And earlier this year, researchers suggested that its crowded, cologne-filled stores may actually cause anxiety.) I don’t know if I’m actually buying-into the anxiety stuff but hearing issues about keeping what were deemed less attractive workers in the back storeroom stocking and actually asking customers who “looked the part” to apply for a job after they just told someone else they had no openings was certainly blatant discrimination and cause for anxiety for those who had to deal with it.

In usual CEO-speak fashion here is what Jeffries said a few days ago at the earnings disclosure meeting; “We are confident that the evolution of our assortment will drive further improvements going forward, we remain highly focused on returning to top-line growth and driving long-term value for our shareholders.”

My translation of this is simply; We took the stupid logos off so the overpriced made anywhere but in the U.S.A. clothes will at least look different. We want our sales in the billions like we used to have but we burned too many bridges and pissed off to many people because we weren’t playing fair or even legal let alone politically correct, ethically, or with an ounce of sensitivity. We really only care about our shareholders and the long-term value for them.

The customer? Jeffries never even mentions the word which is a very telling omission for a business. He and his company have become “uncool” and they probably don’t even know it. For Jeffries this has to be his worst nightmare. (the links in this article are just some of the other blogs I have written about Ambercrombie since 2009.  Just click on them if you want more background on their “uncool” behavior over the years).

(Ever since I published my first short-read on Amazon “Widows Like Me”  I have had some readers ask me why I went digital with it and not published it as a “real book.” The short answer is it was cheaper for me and I had total control. An e-reader doesn’t have to break the bank, I own the cheapest one Amazon carries; . http://amzn.to/1sZW7X9 its the 6in.  non-glare touch model. I’m an Amazon affiliate so if you click through this link to buy this e-reader or anything on their website through my link I get a very small commission.

 

 

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September 1, 2014 · 10:07 am

Abercrombie & Fitch Gives Paris A Taste Of More Ugly American Stuff?

Word on Champ Elysees Avenue in Paris is spreading fast. If you are unattractive or have any visible human flaws, steer clear of a U.S. based retail clothing store on the avenue called Abercrombie & Fitch. The retail chain’s CEO Mike Jeffries, whose tight-as-a-drum flawless 69 year-old face defies gravity, has been extolling the virtues of only hiring attractive people for years. And an old 2006 interview with Jeffries from Salon.com has resurfaced lately with him stating he hires good looking people to attract good looking customers. Evidently this article caught the attention of France’s official human rights watchdog. According to Reuters, they are investigating Abercrombie & Fitch over concerns the clothing retailer discriminates in hiring based on appearance.

This is not news, just rather old news to us in the U.S. as it is well documented Abercrombie & Fitch has lost discrimination lawsuits in the U.S. and Britain as well. They probably build their fines and payouts into the cost of doing business. Why else would a preppy pink shirt or a pair of rubber flip flops be so overpriced? It must be the moose logo. The moose by the way, hearkens from the day before the preppy, flip-flop clad, surfer dude, tan, uber cool (to them), half clothed, model/exclusionary look at their stores took over. It was simply an outdoor clothing/camping/hunting store. No, the guns weren’t emblazoned with the moose logo, they were actually used to hunt moose.

Inside Cover Page from 1909 Abercrombie & Fitc...

Inside Cover Page from 1909 Abercrombie & Fitch Catalog, their first catalog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A French commissioner for human rights spokesperson has said they understand that models would have different requirements than sales staff. They have concerns however, that sales staff should not be discriminated against due to appearance/looks. What Parisians will find out soon enough however is that it is common in the U.S. for Abercrombie to hire people as models and them have them sell. Or, hire less-than-beautiful people and hide them in the back room as if they are part of the stock. For stories of what Abercrombie & Fitch has gone through to try and maintain their Stepford-like store civilization, yet try and give the appearance of total diversity in appearance, you need only look to their lost lawsuits and horror stories of past employees. Just Google the company sometime and you will find enough complaints to fill an Abercrombie & Bitch book.

Parisians pride themselves on being experts in good living or having a certain joie de vivre. The parisian youth are forming lines to get into Abercrombie & Fitch but one can only wonder why? If they are curious about the store’s clothing, the goods are not made in America. If they are looking for quality, it’s not there. How far will their Euros stretch for a pair of rubber (ugh) flip flops? Will they love being doused in the store’s signature “cologne” as they hit the door and barely see (it’s damn dark in there) the salespeople and visible staff all looking alike and all dressing alike as if they were in prep school?  Will they think it’s odd that a store staff has no diversity in appearance and all look the same in their Converse shoes or flip flops? Paris is typically a confident place that touts individualism and uniqueness but maybe Parisian youth will think it’s “cool” or maybe they might just write it off to more ugly American stuff, which in the case of their hiring policies has shown to be true.

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Abercrombie in another ‘Situation’ over elitist image control

Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino and Karina Smi...

Image by trhnlhi via Flickr

Abercrombie & Fitch is losing its grip on image control as every Tom, Dick, Harry and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino,  parade around in their over-priced duds on TV, in Italy and other places not sanctioned by Abercrombie & Fitch.  Abercrombie is “concerned” enough about its image that it has offered a “substantial sum” of money to “The Situation” and the rest of the Jersey Shore cast to cease wearing their clothes.   While it is an obvious publicity ploy,  Abercrombie is no stranger to bad publicity and lawsuits stemming from its insistence that employees project a certain image and look.  I call it the Stepford  look, they call it preppy-sexy-beachy-wholesome-college-frat-sorority look.

While I don’t watch the reality show Jersey Shore, millions do and I have seen an episode or two as the cast tans, goes to the gym, does laundry and of course parties and fights. Not necessarily a wholesome image any product or retail outlet would want to project but Abercrombie had already  jumped on the Jersey Shore bandwagon when they came out with their “Fituation” and “GTL” (gym, tan, laundry) tee shirts a while back. Who are they kidding?  According to an Abercrombie press release; “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image.”  This is pretty funny since their image is one of elitist discrimination.

Abercrombie has long been the bastion of the preppy-sexy look, often approaching their own customers they think have the “look” and asking them if they would like a job while applications pile up from other Abercrombie job seekers that are not considered part of the super-elite-gene-pool-brand that the company covets (they got sued and lost also for telling applicants they weren’t hiring and were caught hiring only people with the “look.”)  I suppose using the pick-of-the-litter method of hiring is okay if we are talking skill set, knowledge, experience, retail personality etc. but choosing someone because they look like a surfer dude or dud and wear flip-flops for a living seems like the bottom of the shallow barrel.

But, Abercrombie will be taking all this free publicity to the bank. People are talking about this PR stunt and advertising geniuses are scratching their heads and wishing they would have thought of the idea first.  Plus, otherwise sane people, instead of boycotting a company that has an ugly policy of hiring only the “attractive” will go buy an A&F something -or-other because they don’t fit their image either, because nobody is going to tell them what they can’t wear–ka-ching!

(I would sure say this picture I used of the “Situation” looks pretty similar to the Abercrombie ads of half naked bodies on their website and in their catalogs so what do they mean he is bad for their image?) P.S. I’m open to not wearing anyone’s clothing–I really have no image so I could readily offend anyone equally. for the right price–of course.

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Abercrombie & Fitch “Look” Policy Rears Its Ugly head Again

Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch

Image via Wikipedia

Abercrombie & Fitch is being sued again for discrimination in the workplace. No surprise here,  I am pretty sure that settling/losing discrimination lawsuits is almost like a second business for Abercrombie, or possibly for their fleet of  lawyers on retainer.  A 2004 class action suit forced them to pay big bucks to every African-American, Asian, Latino and woman who applied but was not hired at their stores. Why?  Because they had this Neanderthal hiring practice of only recruiting and hiring  white frat boys and white sorority girls because they had a certain “look.”  It took a court to tell them what most of the world knows–gee, that “looks” like discrimination. What are you guys trying to do start a new retail race of surfer dudes and duds?  A court order said they must recruit from all of us imperfect people too. But, I hear the imperfect but smart people don’t want to work in a dark cologne-fogged-surfer infested atmosphere of discrimination.

In 2009 a girl with a prosthetic arm sued them and won because they hired her, but decided to hide her in the back storeroom and then changed their mind on allowing her to wear a sweater.  The people who run these stores must be from some planet of the Stepford-people. It’s actually kind-of creepy, hiring only white,  perfect,  beachy, flip-flopped wearing Stepford employees.

Another 2009 lawsuit they lost in Minnesota was to a teen who was trying to help her autistic sister in a dressing room but they kicked her out. The mother even called to complain and explain but Abercrombie’s sensitivity training must have been a little lax. They actually said they didn’t really think she had autism-the girl got $115,000.

This latest lawsuit has to be a slam-dunk for 20-year-old college student, Hani Khan, hired by Hollister Co. (Abercrombie owns it)  in San Mateo in 2009. In her interview the hiring manager asked her if she could wear a headscarf  (she wore a hijab) in the company colors.  She said yes, and she honored that commitment.  She too was put in the stockroom but she did occasionally have to go out in “public” to the sales floor in the course of her duties. A district manager came into the store one day and caught sight of Khan. She was asked to remove the hijab she was wearing, even though she was wearing one when she was hired, she refused.   Khan needed the job to help with her college costs–I don’t think she will have to worry, I’m sure Abercrombie will be paying her tuition and a whole lot more.

(Because I have written about Abercrombie frequently,  a friend with a sense of humor sent me this book;  http://amzn.to/1olaP9T It is “You are What You Wear, What your clothes reveal about you” I must admit it was very interesting but I’m not sure I agree with the premise. I am an Amazon affiliate so I do get a tiny commission if you buy this through my link. I read mine and then re-gifted it to a lucky friend who I always thought dressed rather weird. I wonder if after reading the book he came to the same conclusion? I never asked.)

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