White Hot: The New Abercrombie And Fitch Documentary Is Making Everyone Feel Really Old

They keep explaining what a mall is and we’re not sure why.

Abercrombie and Fitch

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |
Published on

Netflix have just dropped a documentary about Abercrombie and Fitch that shines a light on the allegations of homophobia, weight discrimination and racism within the brand: ‘We go after the cool kids,’ former CEO Mike Jeffries excuses. ‘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.’

Nearly everyone remembers the bizarre exclusivity that engulfed A&F. The preppy brand soared in popularity in the 90s and early 2000s and only hired hot people. Their signature fragrance ‘Fierce’ aggressively wafted from store fronts to lure customers in with notes of musk and sandalwood. There were chiselled topless models waiting on the door and nearly all the lights were turned off inside. Looking back, the concept was deranged.

Is White Hot: The Rise And Fall Of Abercrombie And Fitch worth watching?

In many ways, White Hot: The Rise And Fall Of Abercrombie And Fitch tells us nothing new. There are accounts of wrongdoing already available online, analysis of American culture that allowed the brand to perpetuate and, bizarrely a lengthy explanation of what a shopping mall actually is because, seemingly, Gen Z has no knowledge of the concept. Does anyone else feel old?

Speaking with the tone of a historian examining an artefact from another era, one industry figurehead tells the camera: ‘Imagine like a search engine that you could walk through. Or, an online catalogue that’s an actual place.’ This is tech bro speak for a physical Amazon. Or, if you’re a normal human being: a shopping centre. Lots of different stores, escalators, snacks on route. Yes, we remember, and they still exist today.

‘I’m watching the new Abercrombie doc and I feel so old listening to these people describe mall culture,’ panicked one viewer. ‘Crying over the fact malls aren’t a thing anymore,’ added another. ‘I feel like I aged 10 years after listening to this guy in the Abercrombie documentary define what a mall is,’ said a third. But, if you’re in the mood for a mid-life crisis, by all means - dive in.

Who owns Abercrombie & Fitch?

Mike Jeffries, who was responsible for A&F’s All-American image was previously CEO of Abercrombie but left the company in 2014. By 2017, after the company had been dubbed ‘America’s most hated retailer’ Fran Horowitz took charge. Immediately, stocks started to climb and the company has seen growth of 271% in the last year alone, according to Insider.

Has Abercrombie & Fitch changed?

After Jeffries left the brand, the company changed its aesthetic. Now, their focus is on inclusivity to align with the views of Gen Z and their new poster campaigns honestly look like they could have been made by Reformation. Seriously, some things are actually nice. Think spring dresses and capsule wardrobe pieces.

‘Here, we create a space where everyone feels confident and comfortable in their own skin,’ their website reads. ‘Here, we celebrate diversity in front of and behind the camera and weave it throughout the very fabric of our brand and all we stand for,’ it continues.

‘Abercrombie isn’t a brand where you need to fit in—it’s one where everyone truly belongs,’ the new CEO Fran claims. ‘We lead with purpose, and that inclusive and equitable spirit is woven throughout all we do.’

Thanks to this message and new more minimalist-less-slogan designs, sales are now back up. So, the cool kids’ brand isn’t going anywhere soon—But maybe this time they’ll let a few more people sit at their table.

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