Abercrombie & Fitch engages in racism tactics when is comes to the hiring and use of “sale clerks or models,” one unnamed employee claims. The young woman is reportedly a part-time sales clerk at one of the popular brand’s flagship stores. The Abercrombie & Fitch staffer also maintains that she has been subjected to sexual harassment when working as one of the stores’ “models.” According to the woman, all salespeople are also considered models because they must wear clothing sold by the retailer.
In an article the Abercrombie & Fitch model wrote for xoJane, she said that she was recruited for the sales clerk position by two male models who felt she had a “great look” for the brand. According to the unidentified sale clerk model, the most “blatant instances of racism” at Abercrombie & Fitch happened when former CEO, Mike Jeffries, was due for a visit. Jeffries retired from his post in December.
“When he did visit, managers went out of their way to ensure that the models on the floor were the cream of the crop. Unfortunately, this usually meant the thinnest, tallest, and whitest models,” the Abercrombie & Fitch sales clerk claims.
Abercrombie & Fitch has been the target of multiple discrimination lawsuits in recent year. One discrimination lawsuit settlement reportedly cost the clothing retailer $40 million. The unidentified sales clerk model said Mike Jeffries allegedly visited the store where she worked “frequently” before the location was deemed a flagship store. She said “shameful things” happened right before the then-CEO arrived.
The Abercrombie & Fitch model also claims that most of the black models were dismissed from their cash register and floor duties about an hour before their scheduled shift end time because Mike Jeffries was due to arrive for a visit.
According to the sales clerk, one of her co-worker models detailed the Abercrombie & Fitch manager’s alleged racism during a phone call to the clothing retailer’s “hotline of racism.” No action was taken on the alleged complaint because there was not “enough substantial evidence” to prove that the actions by the store manager were “racially motivated,” the employee claims.
The store model also cites the fact that the sole black door greeter at the store was the first black model to be chosen to fulfill the role for the past five years.
The Abercrombie & Fitch staffer also had the following to say about working for the popular clothing brand.
“I grew to hate coming in to work. What was once a fun, easygoing part-time job now made my stomach churn as I reluctantly squeezed into my uniform of short shorts and low-cut tops.”
The model also said that it was frustrating to explain to female customers that while menswear included sizes up to 36-inches in pants and XXL in shirts, womenswear only went up to a size 10 in pants and a large in tops. The New Rules of Retail co-author, Robin Lewis, stated during a Business Insider interview that Jeffries did not want “larger people shopping in his store, he wanted thin and beautiful people.”
Jeffries reportedly admitted that he saw nothing wrong with excluding “certain customers.” The Abercrombie & Fitch former CEO added, “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.”
The Abercrombie & Fitch model said that she is now only working a few shifts a month at the store while she looks for another retail job. “It is still the vapid, superficial brand that it was 10 years ago when the racial lawsuits surfaced,” she said.
What do you think about the most recent Abercrombie & Fitch racism claims?
[Image via Tim Boyle/Getty Images]