Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Why I hate Abercrombie & Fitch

The author’s thesis in this article would be “Abercrombie has worked hard to produce a brand strongly associated with a young, white, upper-class, leisure lifestyle” (p.66). That this means is that the target group of people Abercrombie and Fitch is focused on the upper class white American of society, which they believe is the best suited lifestyle for an American. Wearing Abercrombie and Fitch’s articles of clothing meant that one was a part of that “cult” and therefore accepted in the typical American society.

The article thoroughly dissected the company that is Abercrombie and Fitch, and exposed it’s clearly racial viewpoints in which they are so deeply proud of. Abercrombie and Fitch first started out as an outdoor equipment/clothing store, first created by David T. Abercrombie in 1892. He was later joined up by Ezra Fitch, who was a lawyer who “sought adventure hiking in the Adirondacks and fishing in the Catskills” (p.62). Fast forwarding, Abercrombie ended up leaving the company in 1907. The store’s inventory expanded to also include sports clothing, and this business was still directed to those who belonged to the upper class. Even presidents and other well known people harbored this brand name. Abercrombie’s reputation “was so well established by this point that it was known as the outfitter of the rich, famous, and powerful” (p.63). Roughly around the 1960s, their business slowly declined, and had to file for bankruptcy in 1977. Though soon after, Limited, Inc., adopted Abercrombie and Fitch, and tried to “position the brand as a men’s clothing line and later added a preppy women’s line under the label as well” (p.65). In the pictures that are plastered everywhere in Abercrombie and Fitch stores, mainly white “attractive” males and females were shown, sporting the Abercrombie and Fitch label. Again, this showed that this company solely wished to focus on those people, between ages eighteen and twenty two, who were white and belonged to the upper and middle class. As for the workers, they were very racist in deciding who to hire. The company would only higher good looking white Americans. They had to look like they were on the football team, or belonged to a fraternity or sorority. The preppy look was the Abercrombie and Fitch look, and was “required” to have to be able to work at such a store. Abercrombie also describes their image as the “natural, classic, American” (p.68).

McBride’s argument throughout this article, besides giving very valid reasons of why he hates Abercrombie and Fitch, is that Abercrombie and Fitch is a very racial company, caring only to please and serve those of the “privileged race”, meaning upper and middle class white Americans. I completely agree with his argument. Throughout the article he gives various accurate examples of what goes on behind the scenes of Abercrombie and Fitch. An example would be how the GM’s would grade one’s staff as being ugly, and each employee was given a letter grade based on how he or she looked. If a worker who was not of the Caucasian race was found to be working in Abercrombie, and not working in the back with the other African Americans and various minorities, the manager of that store was ordered to fire said associate. They were either flat out fired by the managers or GM’s, or they were given the “zero-hour” treatment, where they would just stop receiving hours until they got the picture that they were not wanted, and eventually fired.

Overall, I thought this article was a very good read, despite its length. I think that this article is very informational about what is wrong about Abercrombie and Fitch, and questions why they should even stay in business due to their very racial tendencies. Even though that a good handful of the population in the United States would probably fit this stereotype, that doesn’t mean that the store should exist only to fit their needs, and disregard anyone else who is different from the “privileged” group of people. I personally dislike Abercrombie and Fitch due to the fact that I think their clothes are way too expensive, and way to obnoxious for my tastes. Then again, I don’t really fit the “white American upper/middle class” group of people the store targets, but that shouldn’t really matter…possibly. In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and found many of the points that expose Abercrombie and Fitch’s racism quite intriguing.

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