Today, Abercrombie & Fitch announced that they are finally retiring the “appearance and sense of style” rule of hiring, which means that if you’re looking for retail work, you can pick up an application from A&F and assume you’ll be considered even if you don’t have a six-pack and a spray tan.
The company is also going to chill out a little bit on its “Look Policy” for employees, which, as Buzzfeed reports, forbids facial hair, hair highlights that don’t look “sun-kissed” enough, and fingernails that extend beyond 1/4 of an inch from the finger.
So what’s up with all these changes? As Forbes reported in December, Mike Jeffries left his post as CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch late last year after 11 quarters of comparable decline. It was Jeffries, appointed as CEO in 1992, who was responsible for Abercrombie’s hiring and look policies. Jeffries has been a controversial figure for some time, he came under fire for a remark he made in 2006 in which he told Salon that Abercrombie was for “cool kids – the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends.”
Abercrombie had repeatedly found itself in hot water over their “vision” of ideal employees and customers. In 2013 Business Insider reported that Abercrombie refused to stock women’s clothes in sizes XL and XXL (even though they provide these sizes for male customers), and this February, a discrimination case against Abercrombie & Fitch went all the way to the Supreme Court.
In response to the diminishing sales and negative press, it seems that Abercrombie is trying to rebrand itself as a kinder, gentler retailer.
“We’ve put the customer at the center of the business,” said Christos Angelides, president of the company’s Abercrombie brand, who Bloomberg Business reports is one of the internal candidates to be the company’s new CEO.
But don’t expect Abercrombie to do a complete 180. “We do have very strong, iconic brands,” Fran Horowitz, president of the company’s Hollister brand and another internal candidate for CEO told Bloomberg, “. . . our intent is to make sure that we keep the spirit of those things alive while modernizing what’s happening here.”
We’re glad to have Abercrombie joining us here in the 21st century where inclusivity is cool and the retailers who kick ass are the one who treat their customers and employees with the respect they deserve.