The arrival with great fanfare of the Abercrombie & Fitch store on the avenue des Champs-Élysées ended in bitter failure… This ties in with the story of this American fashion brand in the United States and told in the documentary available on netflix, Abercrombie & Fitch: a brand on the wire. Essential in the 1990s and 2000s across the Atlantic, Abercrombie & Fitch is the embodiment of cool chic. Its stores offer a unique experience. The absence of windows keeps the mystery of the interior of the shop, which is plunged into darkness and invaded by the scent of the brand’s perfume, which the sellers and saleswomen with their attractive physique happily sprinkle on the shelves. And nightclub music echoes through every floor. Customers are greeted at the entrance by two handsome shirtless men with bulging muscles. With a devastating smile, they receive them from a “Hello, how you doin”“, which is reminiscent of Joey’s famous line in Friends. On the walls, large frescoes show half-naked young ephebes. A homoerotic representation depicting an imaginary gay ideal of masculinity wanted by the CEO, Mike Jeffries. Entering an Abercrombie & Fitch store is an immersive experience and its fashion a sign of integration. To highlight its outfits, the brand relies on unknown faces. Who won’t stay that way for long! Among his former models, some have become real stars.
Abercrombie & Fitch Cast Big Stars Long Before They Were Big
Unlike other brands, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch seeks to promote his brand strangers looking like models and not celebrities. To represent what it sells as the perfect image of American youth, the brand unearths the most beautiful men and women, sometimes recruited by chance. A single objective for the headhunter of the company: that the employees are beautiful. The documentary thus teaches us that before becoming famous, future stars of music and cinema posed for Abercrombie & Fitch. Among them, the young Taylor Swiftwinner of numerous awards, Penn Badgley (gossip girl) which we will find on Netflix in season 4 of You, Olivia Wilde (Dr House), Channing Tatum (magic mike), Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Jennifer Carpenter (dexter), Ashton Kutcher (That 70’s Show), the model Heidi Klum or January Jonesthe actress of the cult series madmen.
Discrimination, exclusion… Abercrombie goes from the cool brand to the one everyone hates
Over time, Abercrombie & Fitch loses its luster. In 2003, a sequence from the first Spiderman with Toby McGuire seals the deterioration of their image. Peter Parker fights there with a detestable student dressed as… Abercrombie. The brand’s business model, centered on exclusion and discrimination, has ceased to work with its target, young people from the middle to upper class, who now advocate inclusion and diversity. Former vendors complain of discrimination. Others denounce the words of the CEO: “This guy needs to do more man” Where “She must not be a trucker” and complain about the wandering hands of the brand’s official photographer. More and more decried and accused of inappropriate actions, Mike Jeffries, who did not agree to participate in the Netflix documentary, resigns. Accused of racial discrimination, in a lawsuit that goes all the way to the Supreme Court, the brand radically changes its tone. Today, it offers sizes up to XXL and its advertisements show models of all origins. A wake-up call perhaps a little too late to relaunch the brand.
The documentary Abercrombie & Fitch: a brand on the wire is available on netflix.