If you were in the US during the naughties and 2010s, you’ll know that Abercrombie And Fitch reigned supreme for clothing the young, cool crowd. In the early 2010s, rumours and scandal began brewing for the company, as CEO Mike Jeffries began receiving bad publicity regarding the brand’s exclusion and alleged racism.
An investigation and report has been published by the BBC alleging victims of former CEO Mike Jeffries were subjected to forcible touching, sexual misconduct and drugging. A New York class action law suit has been launched against Abercrombie And Fitch for alleged complicity.
The alleged underbelly of the All-American Brand
Abercrombie And Fitch was synonymous with the all-American image. The smell in the storefronts, the type of music they’d play, and the hunky (often shirtless) greeters they employed to entice you into stores were quintessential to inventing the brand.
The hiring process for Abercrombie And Fitch was no less discriminating and it was these hiring practices and internal policies that landed Mike Jeffries and the company in hot water to begin with.
Some of Jeffries quotes include: “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.”
“In every school, there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
The darker allegations
A BBC report claims to have uncovered a highly organised system of sex trafficking that Mike Jeffries and his British partner Matthew Smith helmed during their tenure with Abercrombie And Fitch. Eight male models have come forward alleging their exploitation at the hands of the two men saying they were taken to sex parties around the world and coerced into participating.
One model who has come forward publicly is Below Deck star David Bradberry who alleges that Jeffries invited him to an event at his house where he was drugged and sexually assaulted. At the time, Bradberry says he felt too unsafe to reject advancements and signed an NDA under pressure.
The BBC investigation lasted for two years and provides evidence that sexual misconduct occurred. Following this, the class action lawsuit pending against Abercrombie And Fitch claims that the company provided corporate resources to support these activities. It alleges that the company also turned a blind eye to criminal activities, prioritising profits and showing unwavering loyalty to Jeffries.