Is the Abercrombie & Fitch presentation a crisis or an opportunity? – RetailWire
April 25, 2022
Since last week’s release, “White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch” has consistently ranked as the best movie on the Netlix platform. The channel’s current management continues to hammer home the message that “we’ve evolved”.
A New York Times critic says the documentary “dresses up old headlines” on A&F’s past approach under former CEO mike jeffries who made his popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s and eventually led to lawsuitsincluding those related to exclusionary marketing and discriminatory hiring.
QG said what the documentary “makes clear is that Abercrombie’s uniquely toxic blend of exclusivity and prescriptive fashion could not exist in today’s style world or landscape, but also that those qualities were key to making it a huge brand in the first place.”
A&F ditched shirtless jocks and reinvented itself with a more minimalist, inclusive approach to product and marketing under CEO Fran Horowitz.
The channel’s first response came on March 31 after the film’s trailer was released. A&F said: “While the problematic elements of this era have already been the subject of broad and valid criticism over the years, we want to be clear that these are actions, behaviors and decisions that would not be allowed or tolerated in business today.”
On April 19, with the release of the film, Ms Horowitz wrote on A&F social media: “Our continued evolution has been so rewarding, and we want to be clear that the newly released documentary does not reflect who we are. We recognize and validate that there were exclusionary and inappropriate actions under the former leadership.
A&F’s website now bears the motto “It’s Abercrombie Today.” Today, and every day, we lead with purpose, championing inclusivity and creating a sense of belonging. A link leads to articles and programs detailing the many ways the channel embraces diversity and inclusion.
Mrs. Horowitz Facebook post received a mixed reaction, with some applauding the rebranding, 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 said, “You can be inclusive without totally losing brand identity.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the popularity of the documentary “White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch” be a net negative for the retailer? Can advertising be beneficial and help highlight the channel’s reinvention?
“A&F is doing the right thing today, and this documentary falls into the category where there’s no bad publicity, especially when it’s free.”