Abercrombie & Fitch: New Netflix documentary shows racism and discrimination

New documentary shows: This is how “Abercrombie & Fitch” earned billions with exclusion

For a while, the “Abercrombie & Fitch” bags were an integral part of the pedestrian zones.


Racism and discrimination were the order of the day at the fashion company “Abercrombie & Fitch”. A new Netflix documentary shows this side of the outwardly laid-back label once again.

“Abercrombie & Fitch” was a name that should be on the shirt. At least if you wanted to be “cool” in the early 2000s. The distinctive smell that emanated from the shops could be perceived in almost every major pedestrian zone. The employees were notorious and strikingly good-looking: Men, for example, worked shirtless in the store and presented their six-packs. Just visiting the store was a phenomenon. Sales in 2013 were still 4.5 billion euros, as the “Handelsblatt” reported.

New on Netflix: “Abercrombie & Fitch: Rise and Fall”

But in recent years, the company has had to close more and more stores. The new Netflix documentary “Abercrombie & Fitch: Rise and Fall” presents some interviews and details in an hour and a half. Former employees and models have their say. The scandals that have made the fashion company an absolute no-go for many are also highlighted. Because: On the outside, “Abercrombie & Fitch” was deliberately casual and cool. Inside, however, there was discrimination and racism.

CEO Mike Jeffries defined the target group very precisely, he said in 2006: “That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to target cool, good-looking people . We don’t market to anyone other than them.” There were also precise guidelines on how new employees had to look: the definition of this was recorded in a guideline book. The appearance of the employees was evaluated weekly: And if it went against the guidelines, they were fired out of hand. But not only body shaming was one of the trademarks of the label. Many employees also felt racism: Employees with a migration background were not allowed to work as salespeople, but should stay in the warehouse so as not to meet the customers.

The documentary also deals with the sometimes racist prints on the company’s T-shirts and the allegations of sexual harassment against photographer Bruce Weber. It is shocking to watch a company earn billions through exclusion and discrimination. In between, you almost think people were hypnotized when they absolutely wanted to carry a bag with a half-naked male body around. Even if the documentary as a whole is very interview-heavy, it illuminates interesting aspects that are relevant today and should therefore be put on the “watch list”.

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