Are you hot enough for Abercrombie?

An Abercrombie and Fitch shopping bag with standard model on the front

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: The clothing company Abercrombie and Fitch is causing a stir again. It's had trouble in the past with racial diversity issues. Now, more employees are complaining they were discriminated against it for the way they look. But this isn't about race. Ashley Milne-Tyte explains.


Ashley Milne-Tyte: One girl says she was moved from sales to the stockroom because management told her she wasn't cute enough to mix with customers. Another employee has talked about a hierarchy of hotness.

Wendy Liebmann of WSL Strategic Retail says we shouldn't be surprised given that Abercrombie refers to its salespeople as models.

Wendy Liebmann: I think that says a lot about what do we expect: we expect the people for this brand at the front of the store to look like a model. And if you don't, then you get, you know, a different position in the store.

She says plenty of other companies follow similar staffing strategies, even if they're less obvious about it. But she says Abercrombie has never been shy about promoting itself with lithe, young bodies and beautiful faces.

Liebmann: So, they're not hiding behind any bushels or ugly people with their philosophy.

She says plenty of ordinary-looking shoppers are lured by the lush marketing. After all, she says, most people aspire to be gorgeous.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

About the author

Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast about women in the workplace called The Broad Experience.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...