Abercrombie & Fitch wasn’t always the worst. Founded in 1892 by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra H. Fitch, the company became the place where sportsmen went to shop for decades; it outfitted Charles Lindbergh for his famous solo flight across the ocean, Ernest Hemingway made A&F his first stop when visiting New York — and eventually did himself in using a shotgun purchased from the store — and the delightful 1964 Howard Hawks comedy, Man’s Favorite Sport?, saw Rock Hudson as a clueless salesman for the store passing himself off as a fishing expert.
Then, sometime in the 1990s, in an attempt to define the store in the crowded malls across America, Abercrombie & Fitch’s new owners turned the brand into the one-stop shop for aspiring frat boys, and other assorted bros who wanted to look like they belonged at Greek Week keg parties. Henceforward, clothes with the logo of a once-respectable company spent the next two decades as a symbol for pretty much everything bad in the world, especially since that company was so often in the news for less-than-flattering reasons.
Most recently, there’s Abercrombie’s attempt at making an anti-bullying statement for National Bullying Prevention Month with these “Bros Before Bullies” T-shirts.
Obviously there’s nothing wrong with raising awareness that bullying sucks, even if you express that sentiment on a shirt that also includes the vile word “bro,” except it somehow slipped the company’s mind to make the shirts for plus-sized people. Of course, under more normal circumstances this would have been seen as just a dumb oversight, but then we recall…
That time the CEO Mike Jeffries (pictured above) told Salon that he doesn’t want unattractive customers.
“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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
Contrary to what the CEO said, A&F got sued for being too vanilla.
The Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores lawsuit, filed in 2003, stated that a number of women and people of color claimed they were either not hired despite having strong qualifications for the job or in the event that they were hired, “they were steered not to sales positions out front, but to low-visibility, back-of-the-store jobs, stocking and cleaning up.”
That time Asian-American groups rightly boycotted Abercrombie for the racist T-shirts pictured above.
The company was sued because it wouldn’t let a girl help her autistic sister try on clothes in the dressing room.
They’re in the Sweatshop Hall of Shame.
For a company that uses “Authentic American clothing since 1892” as its motto, Abercrombie sure does like outsourcing its labor, and also earned a spot in the Sweatshop Hall of Fame for working with a factory in the Philippines that won’t let its employees unionize.
A London woman (pictured above) with a prosthetic arm won a lawsuit against the company because it made her work in the stockroom for the reason that she didn’t fit the brand’s “All-American” image.
They mocked Taylor Swift with the above T-shirt.
Swift’s fans freaked out, so A&F pulled the shirts.
They basically gas you when you walk near the store.
This one is personal, because Flavorwire’s offices are located near a Hollister — A&F’s lifestyle brand — store, and every day we have to walk past its open doors, where we’re greeted with the scent of the cologne being pumped through the store and out into the street to mingle with garbage. Not only does this practice mean that you can’t where the fragrance starts and the trash ends, but it’s also earned A&F protests over the environmentally unfriendly practice.
Like American Apparel, their ads are basically softcore porn.
They’ve been called out on this more times than we can count.