Is Abercrombie & Fitch’s exposé a crisis or an opportunity?
Since last week’s release, “White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch,” has consistently ranked as the top movie on Netlix’s platform. The chain’s current management continues to hammer home the message that “we’ve evolved.”
A New York Times review said the documentary “dresses up old headlines” about A&F’s past approach under former CEO Mike Jeffries that drove its popularity in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s and ultimately led to lawsuits, including those related to exclusionary marketing and discriminatory hiring.
GQ said what the documentary “makes clear is that Abercrombie’s uniquely toxic blend of exclusivity and prescriptive fashion could not exist in today’s world or style landscape—but also that those qualities were central to making it an enormous brand in the first place.”
A&F has ditched the shirtless jocks and reimagined itself with a more minimalist and inclusive approach to product and marketing under the leadership of CEO Fran Horowitz.
The chain’s first response arrived March 31 following the release of the film’s trailer. A&F said, “While the problematic elements of that era have already been subject to wide and valid criticism over the years, we want to be clear that they are actions, behaviors and decisions that would not be permitted or tolerated at the company now.”
On April 19 with the film’s release, Ms. Horowitz wrote on A&F’s social channels, “Our ongoing evolution has been so rewarding, and we want to be clear that the recently released documentary is not reflective of who we are now. We own and validate that there were exclusionary and inappropriate actions under former leadership.”
A&F’s website now leads with the motto, “This is Abercrombie Today. Today —and every day—we’re leading with purpose, championing inclusivity and creating a sense of belonging.” A link leads to articles and programs detailing the many ways the chain’s embracing diversity and inclusion.
Ms. Horowitz’s Facebook post drew a mixed reaction with some applauding the rebrand, some vowing never to buy A&F after seeing the documentary and many urging A&F to return to a stronger point of view. One stated, “You can be inclusive without totally losing the brand identity.”
- This is Abercrombie Today – Abercrombie & Fitch
- We’re Focused On Exclusivity – Facebook
- Thanks For Giving Us A Chance – Facebook
- Abercrombie & Fitch Responds to Upcoming Netflix Doc: ‘We’ve Evolved’ – People
- Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Fran Horowitz Responds to Netflix Documentary Exploring the Company’s Controversial Past – Footwear News
- Abercrombie & Fitch Co (ANF) CEO Fran Horowitz on Q4 2022 Results – Earnings Call Transcript – Seeking Alpha
- How did Abercrombie pull off its comeback? – RetailWire
- ‘White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch’ Review: How Youth Fashion Turned Fascist – Variety
- 6 shocking revelations from Netflix’s new Abercrombie & Fitch doc – Salon
- The Dark Side of Abercrombie & Fitch’s American Dream – GQ
- ‘White Hot’ Review: A Retailer Whose Reputation Went Down in Flames – The New York Times
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the popularity of the “White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch” documentary be a net negative for the retailer? Can the publicity be beneficial and help highlight the chain’s reinvention?