The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch Detailed in New Netflix Series

The Abercrombie & Fitch brand depicted mostly white and gorgeous young men and women.

A new Netflix documentary titled "White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch," chronicles how the elite clothier fell out of fashion following a series of discriminatory and racist practices that resulted in several lawsuits and the demise of the company.

The brand was the epitome of "preppy cool" in the 1990s and 2000s. Or in the words of former CEO Mike Jeffries, who pushed the fashion line to stardom, "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,” he said in a 2006 interview.

The new film retraces the bad years of Abercrombie & Fitch, with its mostly white and truly gorgeous models and employees who often wore little clothing.

The 88-minute documentary recounts how store staff were banned from having dreadlocks, and how the company ranked employees on appearance and skin tone. The firm faced a class action racial discrimination case in the early 2000s and told the Supreme Court in 2015 that it was legal to refuse employment to a woman with a headscarf because the religious garment violated its “look policy”.

Abercrombie & Fitch lost in an 8-to-1 ruling.

In June 2003, nine former employees of color sued the company, alleging it refused them sales jobs, forced them to work in undesirable positions and terminated their contracts on the basis of their race. A $40 million settlement was eventually reached. Though the company admitted no wrongdoing, the settlement included a consent decree that required the firm to change its policies to promote diversity, and to appoint a vice president for diversity in the workplace. 

The fashion line has since changed its advertising campaigns to include more people of color and initiated a plus-size line. 

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