Abercrombie Ends “Looks Policy,” Extends Employment To The Less Hot

Abercrombie & Fitch, long criticized–and dare I say, just straight-up mocked–for it’s policy of only hiring “hot” salespeople, is now in the process of abolishing it.

From now on, instead of referring to its employees as “models” they will refer to them as “brand representatives.” Gone is the notorious “looks” policy which banned, according to Bloomberg’s Lindsay Rupp,”banned French-tip manicures, certain hair-styling products and, among other things, mustaches.” The policy recently had gotten them in trouble after they were sued for denying a Muslim teenager a job because she wore a Hijab.

In addition to this, the company will now also be selling some plus-size clothing. Now that former CEO Mike Jeffries, who famously instituted all of this weirdness, has retired, it’s basically a free-for-all. Or, hey, maybe the new people in charge don’t want to be famous for being jerks!

They also plan to make the stores brighter, stop playing their music super loud and cut down on the amount of “Fierce”–their signature cologne–that saturates the store. Oh, and by the end of July, all those hunky fellas that grace the store’s bags will be gone as well.

Chairman Arthur Martinez says this is about serving the customer better, but I have a feeling it’s about much more than that. Sorry, but the days of “camping chic” are kind of over, and the whole Abercrombie look is pretty outdated. Abercrombie, while still being what it used to be, is just not what it used to be. They’re grasping at whatever straws they can find.

There was a time when wearing Abercrombie was a status symbol–largely in suburban areas where there wasn’t exactly a ton of access to designer brands. Now that the internet’s around, and people from anywhere can shop anywhere, it’s less of a big deal. People aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to go buy a super expensive t-shirt with a name of a mall store emblazoned across it these days.

True story, my sister worked at Abercrombie for a bit years ago, so I’ve got a bit of dirt on how this “looks policy” used to work. For one, they were supposed to actually approach “hot” people in the store and ask them if they wanted to work there. For another, when people did hand in applications, they were supposed to circle the A in Abercrombie if they were super hot, the B if they were sort of hot, the C if…I don’t know, a regular person, and the F if they were unattractive.

Worse than that, though, was the fact that the only minorities in the store worked in the back room, and they basically only hired white people for the front of the store. It was really, really gross.

Now that they’re changing this policy, I hope they either have changed or are going to change another policy that drives me right up the wall. Like a few other mall stores, Abercrombie requires its employees to wear only clothes from their store. When my sister worked there, this included shoes and they had to wear flip-flops in the middle of the winter because those were the only shoes they sold. They were also only allowed to wear clothing from the front of the store, meaning that not only could they not just buy stuff on sale and wear that, they couldn’t wear stuff that was a few weeks old and thus in the middle of the store. The clothes there were not cheap, and Abercrombie didn’t pay most associates more than minimum wage, so essentially there were people who ended up basically paying to work there.

I know there have been some lawsuits regarding policies like this, but I am unable to figure out if it’s still a thing. From what I recall from my mall employee days of yore (Charlotte Russe, Contempo Casuals and Afterthoughts!), both American Eagle and Abercrombie had the “front of the store” policies, GAP had a policy requiring you to wear GAP clothes, but you could wear older ones and be OK.  It was especially shocking, on my end, because those were also the stores that we all knew paid employees the absolute minimum. Meanwhile, I didn’t have to wear the clothes at Contempo or Charlotte Russe, and I got two dollars above the minimum in high school.

If anyone actually has any information whether or not such policies are still in effect, or other bizarre and unfortunate policies of retail that the wider world should know about, feel free to get at me at [email protected]