Abercrombie & Fitch

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Abercrombie & Fitch
Type Public
Traded as NYSEANF (S&P 500 Component)
Industry Retail
Founded New York City, New York (June 4, 1892 (1892-06-04))
Founders
Headquarters New Albany, Ohio, U.S.
Number of locations 1006 (Feb 2014)[1]
Area served Worldwide
Key people Mike Jeffries (CEO)
Products
Revenue Decrease US$ 4.11 billion (2013)[1]
Operating income Decrease US$ 80.82 million (2013)[1]
Net income Decrease US$ 54.62 million (2013)[1]
Total assets Decrease US$ 2.85 billion (2013)[1]
Total equity Decrease US$ 1.72 billion (2013)[1]
Employees 13,000 full-time (Mar 2014)[1]
66,000 part-time (Mar 2014)[1]
Divisions
Website abercrombie.com

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) is an American retailer that focuses on casual wear for young consumers, and is headquartered in New Albany, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.[2] It has over 400 locations in the United States, and is expanding internationally.[3] The company operates three offshoot brands: Abercrombie Kids, Hollister Co., and Gilly Hicks, in addition to a post-collegiate brand, Ruehl No.925, that closed in early 2010.[2]

Abercrombie & Fitch's main competitors are Aéropostale and American Eagle Outfitters, though they are less expensive. Its younger subsidiary, Abercrombie Kids, competes with Aéropostale's P.S., and American Eagle Outfitters's 77kids.

History[edit]

Founded in 1892 in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, Abercrombie & Fitch was an elite outfitter of sporting and excursion goods, particularly noted for its expensive shotguns, fishing rods, fishing boats, and tents. In 1976, Abercrombie & Fitch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, finally closing its flagship Manhattan store in 1977.[4]

Shortly thereafter the name was revived, when in 1978, Oshman's Sporting Goods, a Houston-based chain owned by Jake Oshman,[5] bought the defunct firm's name and mailing list for $1.5 million[6] ($5.2 million in 2013 dollars).[7] Oshman's relaunched A&F as a mail-order retailer specializing in hunting wear and novelty items. It also opened shops in Beverly Hills, Dallas, and (by the mid-1980s) New York City. Finally, in 1988, Oshman's sold the company name and operations to The Limited, a clothing-chain operator based in Columbus, Ohio.[8] Now, A&F sells mostly clothes for the youth market, and describes its retailing niche as an aspirational "Casual Luxury" lifestyle brand.[9]

Especially since 1997, the company has consistently kept a high-profile in the public eye, due to its advertising, its philanthropy, and its involvement in legal conflicts over branding, clothing style and employment practices. The company has been accused of promoting the sexualization of pre-teen girls by marketing thongs to 10-year-olds and padded bikini tops to 7-year-olds.[10]

The company has received criticism over its provocative advertising.[11] In 2013, the company came under fire for comments made by the CEO, stating that his brand is only suitable for "the good-looking, cool kids," and that there are people who don't belong in his clothes – namely overweight people.[12]

Headquarters[edit]

The company's headquarters, referred to by the company as "The Home Office", is located outside of Columbus, Ohio in New Albany, Ohio.[13] The Home Office is designed as a campus of sorts, and is referred to as such. The company's merchandise-distribution centers (1 million square feet) are located exclusively on campus to help ensure brand protection.[13] Also on campus are mock-up stores, one for each of the company's brands, where store layout, merchandise and atmosphere are determined.[13]

The company also has a European office in Milan, Italy.[14][15]

As of July 1, 2014, the following were key corporate officials:[16]

  • Mike Jeffries – Chief Executive Officer
  • Arthur Martinez – Non-Executive Chairman
  • Diane Chang – Executive Vice President of Sourcing
  • Leslee K. Herro – Executive Vice President of Planning and Allocation
  • Ronald A. Robins, Jr. – Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel
  • Jonathan Ramsden – Chief Operating Officer
  • Amy Zehrer – Senior Vice President of Stores
  • Christos Angelides – President of Abercrombie & Fitch and abercrombie kids brands

Employment[edit]

The company uses "brand representatives," now called "models," for store customer service. The models had been required to buy and wear A&F clothing, but following a company settlement with California state labor regulators may now wear any no-logo clothing as long as it corresponds with the season and style of the brand. The California settlement also provided $2.2 million to reimburse former employees for their forced purchases of company-branded clothing.[17] An "Impact Team" was created in 2004 to control merchandise within each store and maintain company standards. Bigger and higher volume stores have a "Full Time Stock" who trains Impact associates, processes shipment, maintains stock room standards, and can act as a manager if the store is short on management staffing. The store manager and assistant managers are responsible for forms, lighting, photo marketing, fragrance presentations and to ensure models comply with the "look policy".[18]

Lawsuits have been filed against the company due to alleged discriminatory employment practices. In 2004, in Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores (see "Legal issues" and "Controversy and Criticism" below), the company was sued for giving desirable positions to white applicants, to the exclusion of minorities.[19][20]

Settlement of class-action lawsuit[edit]

On April 14, 2005, Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted final approval to a settlement of Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores. The settlement requires the company to pay $40 million to several thousand minority and female plaintiffs who charged the company with discrimination. The settlement also requires the company to institute a range of policies and programs to promote diversity among its workforce and end discrimination based on race or gender. The consent decree governs the recruitment, hiring, job assignment, training, and promotion of Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and abercrombie kids employees. A monitor will regularly evaluate and report on the company's compliance with the provisions of the consent decree.[21][22] These provisions include:

  • "Benchmarks" for hiring and promotion of women, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans. These benchmarks are goals, rather than quotas, and the company will be required to report on its progress toward these goals at regular intervals
  • A prohibition on targeting fraternities, sororities, or specific colleges for recruitment purposes
  • Advertising of available positions in publications targeting minorities of both genders
  • A new Office and Vice President of Diversity, responsible for reporting to the company's chief executive officer on the company's progress toward fair employment practices
  • The hiring of twenty-five recruiters who will focus on and seek women and minority employees
  • Equal employment opportunity (EEO) and diversity training for all employees with hiring authority
  • Revision of performance evaluations for managers, making progress toward diversity goals a factor in their bonuses and compensation
  • A new internal complaint procedure
  • The company's marketing materials will reflect diversity by including members of minority racial and ethnic groups

Marketing and advertising[edit]

The trademark slogan, Casual Luxury.

A&F is known for its racy marketing photography by Bruce Weber.[23] It is rendered to grayscale and features outdoor settings, usually with semi-nude males and females for an increased tone of sexuality. A&F casts only store employees for marketing campaigns. Casting directors from the home office travel to key A&F regional stores in the United States and to London to hold "casting calls" for employees aspiring to become the next "A&F New Face".[24] The company promotes its casting sessions, models, and photo shoots in the "A&F Casting" feature online at abercrombie.com. The website also provides a gallery of current photography. Framed copies at A&F stores will sometimes name the model and store.

The Abercrombie & Fitch brand image is heavily promoted as an international near-luxury lifestyle concept.[25] The company began cultivating an upscale image after the 2005 opening of its Fifth Avenue flagship store alongside Prada and other upscale retailers.[26] Having for years used high-grade materials in the construction of its merchandise and priced them at "near-luxury" levels, the trademark Casual Luxury was introduced[26] as a fictional dictionary term with multiple definitions such as "[using] the finest cashmere, pima cottons, and highest quality leather to create the ultimate in casual, body conscious clothing,"[27] and "implementing and/or incorporating time honored machinery ...to produce the most exclusive denim..."[27] This upscale image has allowed A&F to open stores in international high-end locations and further promote the image by pricing its merchandise at almost double the American prices.

Overall, CEO Jeffries calls the A&F image a "movie" because of the "fantasy" that plays out instore.[28] Even some of the clothing is given "story": "You buy into the emotional experience of a movie," Jeffries explains, "And that's what we're creating. Here I am walking into a movie, and I say, 'What's going to be [at] the box office today?'"[28]

Following a dismal earnings announcement on August 2014,[29] the company decided to drop its logo-branded apparel line, arguing that this element of its brand does not resonate with its target market. The company is now shifting its marketing strategy to trendier outfits and faster production processes. Some experts argue the retailer's focus on exclusivity has caused it to fall out of fashion with its target market.[30]

Products[edit]

High-end "Ezra Fitch" clothing marker.
The signature A&F fragrance, FIERCE.

Women's Wear Daily calls Abercrombie & Fitch clothing classically "neo-preppy", with an "edgy tone and imagery".[31] The company's fashions have a reputation for luxury, with the majority of designs trend-driven. There is heavy promotion of "Premium Jeans". In early 2010, the company introduced a leather handbag collection inspired by designs from Ruehl.

Its prices are recognized as the highest in the youth-clothing industry.[32] Internationally, prices are almost double those in its American stores. Retail analyst Chris Boring warns that the company's brands are a "little more susceptible" should recession hit, because their specialties are premium-priced goods rather than necessities.[33] Indeed, as the late-2000s recession continues, A&F has noticeably suffered financially for its refusal to lower prices or offer discounts. A&F argues that doing so would "cheapen" its near-luxury image. Analyst Bruce Watson warns that A&F risks finding itself transformed into "a cautionary tale of a store that was left by the wayside when it declined to change with the times".[32] A&F's year-to-year revenue, a key indicator of a retailer's health, rose 13% in September 2010, aided by strong international sales.[34]

Abercrombie & Fitch carries men's fragrances Fierce, Colden, and have re-branded the original cologne Woods (Christmas Floorset 2010). Women's fragrances include 8, Perfume 41, Wakely, and the newly debuted Perfume #1. Fierce and 8 are the most heavily marketed fragrances, as they are the signature scents of the brand overall.[35]

The company also offers the Abercrombie & Fitch Credit Card, issued by the World Financial Network Bank.[36]

Brand protection[edit]

Because of extensive counterfeiting of Abercrombie & Fitch goods, in 2006 the company launched a brand protection program to combat the problem worldwide (focusing more on China, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea) by working with legal forces globally.[37] The program is headed by a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who was part of the FBI's Intellectual Property Rights program, and covers all A&F brands. A&F says that the program "will improve current practices and strategies by focusing on eliminating the supply of illicit Abercrombie & Fitch products."[37]

In August 2011, A&F offered Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and other cast members of the MTV reality show Jersey Shore a "substantial payment" if they stopped wearing Abercrombie-branded clothes, stating "We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image."[38] In November 2011, Sorrentino filed a lawsuit against A&F after the company allegedly violated his copyrights in making shirts that said "The Fitchuation" and "GTL...You Know The Deal."[39]

Stores[edit]

Abercrombie & Fitch store located at The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, California.
The Modern Canoe store located at the Mall at Millenia in Orlando, Florida with wooden louvers (featuring the Spring Break 2007 marketing campaign picture).
Abercrombie & Fitch store in New York City

The exterior of the contemporary store design features white molding and formerly black louvers. Starting in mid-2013 and concluding early 2014, the louvers were removed from all locations except flagship stores. The company stated that the louvers were removed in an effort to eliminate the exclusive atmosphere from stores and to experiment with window marketing.[40] The currently featured marketing image directly faces the entrance. The interior is lit with dim ceiling lights and spot lighting. Electronic dance music meant to create an upbeat atmosphere may be played at sound levels as high as 90 decibels, exceeding the corporate policy of 80 decibels and comparable to heavy construction machinery and harmful to the ears.[41]

The company operates 1,049 stores across all four brands. The A&F brand has 278[42] locations in the United States, four in Canada (two in Alberta and two in Ontario). In Europe it has stores in London, Dublin, Milan, Copenhagen, Paris, Madrid, Brussels and Amsterdam as well as three stores in Germany (Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Munich). Abercrombie & Fitch also operates stores in Asia which are located in Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

The only international store to close was in Fukuoka, Japan - it is operated as an Abercrombie & Fitch outlet.

Brands[edit]

Abercrombie & Fitch has three concept brands apart from its namesake; they are referred to as subsidiaries, but are operated as divisions under the A&F umbrella.

Abercrombie Kids
Prep-school by Abercrombie & Fitch[43] Themed as "classic cool" for kids 7 through 14,[2] this is the children's version of Abercrombie & Fitch.
Hollister Co.
Southern California by Abercrombie & Fitch[43] Themed after "SoCal" for teenagers 14 through 18,[2] with lower prices than its parent brand.
Gilly Hicks
The cheeky cousin of Abercrombie & Fitch[43] Themed after "Down Under" Sydney, it offers underwear and loungewear for women 18 and up.[44]
Ruehl No.925
Post-Grad by Abercrombie & Fitch[43] Themed after a fictional Greenwich Village heritage, offered clothes for 22 through 35 post-grads. Closed in 2010.[45]

Humanitarian projects[edit]

In recent years, Abercrombie & Fitch has engaged in philanthropic and humanitarian projects. In January 2010, the company launched the "A&F Cares" feature on its website to inform the public about its efforts in the fields of diversity, inclusion, human rights, philanthropy, and sustainability.[46]

The A&F Challenge is an annual fundraising event held on the home office campus in New Albany that features running, walking, biking, entertainment, and food. The funds raised go to the Ohio State University Medical Center's Program for Health, which focuses on "women's cancers and the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease."[47]

In 2007, Abercrombie & Fitch partnered with the National Society of High School Scholars at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia to offer US$75,000 scholarships to NSHSS members.[48]

Expansion campaign[edit]

Total capital expenditures for 2010 were in the range of $250 million to $260 million.[45] $215 million to $225 million is related to new stores, store refreshes and remodels, and approximately $35 million related to information technology, distribution center and other home office projects.[45] The company is on track to open flagship stores in Stockholm, Sweden (brought about by the Amethier twins), Singapore and Amsterdam, Netherlands, as well as shuttering 60 of its namesake stores in the U.S., by the end of 2010.[45] Additionally, the company will open 30 Hollister mall-based locations internationally and a second Hollister Epic flagship in New York City.[45]

The Abercrombie & Fitch brand is believed to have reached its maximum growth potential in the American market. International expansion began in 2006, with the long-term goal of opening flagships for A&F (and eventually all its brands), in high-profile shopping centers worldwide "at a deliberate pace".[49][50]

After delivering openings at a deliberately slow pace, the company will accelerate international expansion for its namesake and its Hollister Co. brand.[51] Noting the high profitability of its current international stores, A&F has plans to open about 15 flagship locations in total throughout Europe and Asia up to the end of its fiscal 2012 year.[52] The steep number could include openings for its other brands as well. The company expects 30% of its sales to be from international stores by 2012.[51]

Canada[edit]

Canadian expansion is expected to continue, with more mall store locations for Abercrombie & Fitch and its Abercrombie and Hollister brands in upcoming years.[53]

Possible locations for further expansion include the Laurier Québec, Yorkdale Mall, Masonville Place, Metrotown, Carrefour Laval, Rideau Centre, and Halifax Shopping Centre.

Europe[edit]

The company entered the European market in 2007 with its London flagship store. Since then, the company has opened stores in Italy, Denmark, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Ireland. In December 2012 a flagship store opened in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Asia[edit]

The Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store in Ginza, Tokyo, Japan – the first one in Asia

As with Europe, expansion into Asia holds a strong interest for the company. Having opened Asia's first A&F location in Tokyo, the company will primarily focus on the Chinese and Japanese markets where luxury consumption is high.[62]

A&F anticipates opening many additional small retail locations throughout Japan in the near future.[63] Despite the positive reception of A&F in Tokyo, Kensuke Kojima comments that, "Abercrombie's long-established WASPy and masculine image does not match the current Japanese market trend for non-aggressive styles."[64]

Legal issues[edit]

The company has been involved in legal conflicts over its employment practices, treatment of customers, and clothing styles.

Employment practices[edit]

In a 2004 lawsuit González v. Abercrombie & Fitch, the company was accused of discriminating against African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and women by preferentially offering floor sales positions (called Brand Representatives or Models) and store management positions to Caucasian males.[67] The company agreed to a settlement of the class-action suit, which required the company to (1) pay $40 million to African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and women who applied and were not hired or worked in certain store positions, (2) revise its hiring, performance measurement, and promotion policies, (3) revise its internal complaint procedures, (4) appoint a Vice President of Diversity, (5) hire 25 recruiters to seek out minority applicants, (6) discontinue the practice of recruiting employees at primarily white fraternities and sororities, (7) include more minorities in marketing materials, (8) report to a neutral court-appointed monitor twice per year regarding its progress in those areas, and (9) report to the court once per year.[19][21]

In June 2009, British law student Riam Dean, who had worked at A&F's flagship store in London's Savile Row, took the company to an employment tribunal. Dean, who was born without a left forearm, claimed that although she was initially given special permission to wear clothing that covered her prosthetic limb, she was soon told that her appearance breached the company's "Look Policy" and sent to work in the stock room, out of sight of customers. Dean sued the company for disability discrimination, and sought up to £20,000 in damages.[68] In August 2009, the tribunal ruled the 22-year-old was wrongfully dismissed and unlawfully harassed. She was awarded £8,013 for loss of earnings and wrongful dismissal.[69][70]

In a lawsuit filed in September 2009 in U.S. District Court by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 17-year-old Samantha Elauf said she applied, in June 2008, for a sales position at the Abercrombie Kids store in the Woodland Hills Mall, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The teen, who wears a hijab in accordance with her religious beliefs, claims the manager told her the headscarf violates the store's "Look Policy".[71]

In 2010, a Muslim woman working at a Hollister store in San Mateo, California, was fired. Before being dismissed, Hani Khan had refused Abercrombie & Fitch's human-resources representative's demand that she remove her hijab. The representative reportedly stated that the headscarf, which Khan wears for religious reasons, violated the company's "Look Policy". The civil liberties group Council on American-Islamic Relations has stated that the dismissal is a violation of nondiscrimination laws, and filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.[72]

In 2011, the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism started an investigation into A&F's hiring and remuneration policies. The firm was suspected of only hiring personnel under 25 years old, making heavy demands on the physical appearance of its staff and rewarding a premium to male models that work shirtless.[73]

Customer issues[edit]

In 2009, the company was fined more than $115,000 by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights for refusing to let a teenage girl help her sister, who has autism, try on clothes in a fitting room. The amount of the fine reflected "pushback" by the company according to Michael K. Browne, the legal affairs manager of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.[74]

A 16-year-old is suing the company after discovering that she was being videotaped in an A&F changing room by an employee, Kenneth Applegate II. Applegate denied the claim, but co-workers discovered his camera days later with the video on it.[75]

In 2010, a customer filed a class action relating to a 2009 holiday gift card promotion. The lawsuit alleges that the gift cards said "No Expiration Date" but Abercrombie voided and expired the gift cards in early 2010. In 2012, a judge certified a nationwide class in the case. In May 2013, Class Notice went out to potential class members.[76]

Lawsuits against other parties[edit]

In 2002, the company filed a lawsuit against American Eagle Outfitters, claiming that American Eagle copied A&F garment designs, among other things. The lawsuit was based on a trade-dress claim, stating that American Eagle had very closely mimicked A&F's products' visual appearance and packaging. Specifically, A&F claimed that American Eagle copied particular articles of clothing, in-store displays and advertisements, and even the A&F product catalog. Despite the admission that American Eagle might have utilized very similar materials, designs, in-store displays, symbols, color combinations, and patterns as A&F, the court ruled that there was not an excessive level of similarity to confuse potential customers, and therefore the court ruled in favor of American Eagle.[77]

On October 18, 1999, Abercrombie & Fitch had a lawsuit about making false and misleading statements concerning its growth while knowing the actual growth was less than Wall Street expectations,[78] and paid $6,050,000 for settlement.

Controversy and criticism[edit]

Since its re-establishment in 1988, Abercrombie & Fitch has faced numerous accusations regarding its employment practices, merchandise, and advertising campaigns which have been described as sexually explicit and racist.[23][79]

Labor practices[edit]

In November 2009, Abercrombie & Fitch was added to the "Sweatshop Hall of Shame 2010" by the worker advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum.[80]

A&F Quarterly[edit]

Main article: A&F Quarterly

Conservative and religious groups called for boycotts of the original American publication of A&F Quarterly (published from 1997 to 2003) for its sexually explicit nature.[81] The magazine contained nude photography by Bruce Weber, articles about sex, and recipes for alcoholic beverages. Also acting as a catalog, the Quarterly displayed the brand's merchandise with information and prices. Advertisements for the A&F Quarterly appeared in Interview, Out, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.[82]

Despite a company policy restricting sale of the publication to minors, critics charged that the publication was readily sold to minors. In 2003, an array of religious organizations, women's rights activists, and Asian American groups organized boycotts and protests over the publication, and the "Christmas Edition" of the catalog was removed from stores.[83] Although Jeffries said he chose to discontinue the catalog, because "Frankly, [he] was getting sick of the old one; it was getting boring," on June 17, 2010, the company made the announcement, "The Return of the A&F Quarterly" and invited email subscribers to reserve their $10 copy for a July 17, 2010, in-store release date.[84]

Product criticism[edit]

In 2002, A&F sold a shirt that featured the slogan "Wong Brothers Laundry Service – Two Wongs Can Make It White" with smiling figures in conical Asian hats, a depiction of early Chinese immigrants. The company discontinued the designs and apologized after a boycott started by an Asian American student group at Stanford University.[85] That same year, abercrombie kids removed a line of thong underwear sold for girls in pre-teen children's sizes after parents mounted nationwide storefront protests. The underwear included phrases like "Eye Candy" and "Wink Wink" printed on the front.[86]

More T-shirt controversies occurred in 2004. The first incident involved a shirt featuring the phrase, "It's All Relative in West Virginia," a jab at alleged incestuous relationships in rural America. West Virginia Governor Bob Wise spoke out against the company for depicting "an unfounded, negative stereotype of West Virginia", but the shirts were not removed.[87] Later, another T-shirt that said "L is for Loser" next to a picture of a male gymnast on the rings gathered publicity. The company stopped selling the shirt in October 2004 after USA Gymnastics president Bob Colarossi announced a boycott of A&F for mocking the sport.[88]

In 2005, the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania launched a "Girlcott" of the store to protest the sale of T-shirts displaying sexist messages such as "Who needs brains when you have these?", "Available for parties," and "I had a nightmare I was a brunette." The campaign received national coverage on The Today Show, and the company pulled the shirts from stores on November 5, 2005.[89] Five days after this media coverage, A&F pulled two of the shirts off of its shelves, released an apology to girls for producing the T-shirts, and agreed to have corporate executives meet with the "Girlcott" girls at the company's headquarters.[90]

Bob Jones University, a non-denominational Protestant university located in Greenville, South Carolina, and its affiliated pre-collegiate schools, along with other Christian schools have prohibited A&F and Hollister clothing from being "worn, carried, or displayed" on its campuses because of "an unusual degree of antagonism to the name of Christ and an unusual display of wickedness" in the company's promotions.[91]

After A&F raised its price points in 2004, its products have been described as overpriced.[84] After the company opened its flagship store in London, England and Paris, France, the brand was criticized in the United Kingdom and France because the merchandise that was offered to the customers cost double (or a direct $/£ - $/€ swap) compared to prices found in the U.S.[92]

A T-shirt controversy arose again over A&F's Back-to-School 2009 collection of "humor tees".[93] One shirt proclaims "Show the twins" above a picture of a young woman with her blouse open to two men. Two other shirts state "Female streaking encouraged" and "Female Students Wanted for Sexual Research".[93] The American Family Association disapproved of the influence of the "sex-as-recreation" lifestyle shirts, and asked the brand to remove its "sexualized shirts" from display.[93]

Renaming of trauma center[edit]

In 2008, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio agreed to rename its emergency room to the Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center in exchange for a $10 million donation.[94] A letter written by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, signed by over 100 doctors and children's advocacy groups, argued against the renaming, for the "company's appalling history of targeting children with sexualized marketing and clothing."[95]

Fifth Avenue paycheck glitch[edit]

Upwards of 70 employees at A&F's Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York City were not paid their biweekly paychecks for about a month in March 2010.[96] Fox News reported the issue, and was told by A&F's corporate spokesperson that about 60 or 70 employees were not paid due to a computer glitch. The problem was resolved about one month later.[96]

Red Poppy prohibition in the UK[edit]

In November 2010, the Southampton, England, A&F store prevented 18-year-old Harriet Phipps from wearing the Red Poppy, which is worn as part of the Armistice Day commemorations in the United Kingdom every November. Phipps was particularly upset as the commemorations also include those in current active service in Iraq and Afghanistan where both UK and US troops make up the bulk of coalition forces present, and she has a personal friend serving. The official A&F reason for the refusal was reported to be that the poppy is not considered part of the corporate approved uniform, and is therefore prohibited.[97]

However, on November 8 the company posted on its Facebook page the following statement: "As an American company that has been around since 1892, we appreciate the sacrifices of the British and American servicemen/women in the World Wars and in military conflicts that continue today. Our company policy is to allow associates to wear a poppy as a token of this appreciation on Remembrance Day. Going forward, ...we will revisit this policy to the days/weeks leading up to Remembrance Day."

Proposed Abercrombie Kids shop on Savile Row[edit]

In 2012, A&F announced plans that it would open its Abercrombie Kids shop at No. 3 on Savile Row, next door to Gieves & Hawkes.[98] The building in question has cultural significance because The Beatles once played on top of the roof. The plans drew criticism and opposition from the tailors of the Row, who were already unhappy about the presence of the main A&F store on Burlington Gardens at the end of the Row to begin with, which eventually led to a protest organized by The Chap magazine on Monday, April 23, 2012.[99][100] During the consultation period, objections were lodged to Westminster City Council and in February 2013 the Council rejected many of A&F's proposals for the store, stating that the plans for fixed screens on the windows, shutting out light to create the nightclub feel, was “deeply flawed” and damaging to the character of the street and that the flagpoles that normally hang from Abercrombie & Fitch stores were “highly inappropriate”[101] and branded the entire plans "utterly unacceptable."[102] A public enquiry was then set for February 12 after A&F appealed.

However, A&F seems to have managed to overcome the remaining obstacles and is set to open the store in September 2014.[103]

2006 quote on target demographic[edit]

In 2013, a 2006 Salon Magazine interview with CEO, Mike Jeffries went viral and caused widespread outcry over Abercrombie's marketing practices.[104][105][106][107] The article highlighted Jeffries' statements that Abercrombie did not produce clothing for women larger than size 10 and purposefully did not market to "unattractive" individuals.[108] As the article gained momentum via Social Media, the company's official Facebook site was bombarded by comments and posts against this strategy.[109]

In January 2006, CEO Mike Jeffries made the following comments to an interviewer for Salon.com: "That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that.” ... “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.”[110] These quotes, which were the basis for the article's "youth, sex and casual superiority" headline, went largely unnoticed when the article was published in 2006, until they resurfaced in May 2013 after former Jenny Craig weight-loss spokesperson Kirstie Alley brought them up in an Entertainment Tonight interview.[111] Prominent talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres also later spoke out against the company.[112][113]

Jeffries issued an official statement on May 17, 2013, regarding the news articles, saying, "I want to address some of my comments that have been circulating from a 2006 interview. While I believe this 7-year-old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense." He also stated, "We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics."[114]

Notable Abercrombie & Fitch models[edit]

Abercrombie & Fitch models

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h United States Security and Exchange Commission (March 31, 2014). "Abercrombie & Fitch 2013 10-K". Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Four Iconic Businesses: One "BRAND"" (PDF). Retrieved February 9, 2008. 
  3. ^ View Competitors for Abercrombie & Fitch Company (ANF).
  4. ^ [1].
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External links[edit]