Abercrombie & Fitch Ends Infamous Hot Salesclerk Policy

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Laurent Fievet/AFP/GettyImagesModels promote the opening of an Abercrombie & Fitch store.
By Ashley Lutz

Abercrombie & Fitch has abolished its infamous "Look Policy" in which it recruited good-looking people who shopped there and referred to associates as "models."

The former policy "banned French-tip manicures, certain hair-styling products and, among other things, mustaches," writes Lindsay Rupp at Bloomberg. Now, "clerks will be referred to as brand representatives, not models," Rupp writes. "They still can't wear extreme makeup or jewelry, but the rules are gentler."

Abercrombie and its competitors have been struggling as young people increasingly spend money on smartphones and lattes instead. Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries retired in December after two decades at the helm. Jeffries' obsession with a preppy, attractive image was reportedly the reason behind the Look Policy.

In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries himself said that his business was built around sex appeal. "It's almost everything. That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that."

Changes in Marketing, Too

Jeffries also told Salon that he wasn't bothered by excluding some customers. "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he told the site. "Candidly, 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."

Since Jeffries left, Abercrombie has made a lot of changes.
  • The brand has scaled back on racy ads and shirtless models and now sticks to more wholesome images for its marketing.
  • It is adding plus sizes.
  • Abercrombie is changing the appearance and scent of its stores. The brand removed the louvres, or blinds, from 240 of its namesake and kids' stores. This gave the locations a brighter appearance. It also reduced the scent of its Fierce cologne by 25 percent.
In the past, Abercrombie has been accused of excluding minority and plus-size customers. The company began an anti-bullying campaign which has reached an estimated 750,000 teens. Abercrombie sold T-shirts with saying like "be yourself" and "real is the new black."
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