Are you ready for a dose of nostalgia and scandal in one Netflix documentary? White Hot: The Rise And Fall Of Abercrombie & Fitch is the latest scandalous doc that needs to be on your radar.
There used to be a time when a trip to a shopping centre or a bustling high street wasn’t complete without walking past an Abercrombie & Fitch. We remember fondly staring into the dark abyss of the store, smelling the intoxicatingly sweet fragrance that permeated from it and gawking at the incredibly beautiful staff.
The casual clothing store became a hit with our younger selves – we pined after the branded T-shirts and plain jeans in the hopes of embodying the uber-cool person Abercrombie made you think you could be.
Working in the store was a rite of passage that seemed to be reserved only for those among us blessed with model looks. It’s safe to say, though, that the chain store had us all firmly in the grips of a craze that we can only look back on and laugh at.
But what happened to the store? Why was everyone who worked there so ‘typically’ beautiful? Why were they selling this sexy ideal to an incredibly young audience?
Well, today’s (19 April) the day we find out more about the scandal behind the company as the documentary has finally landed on Netflix. And if you still need persuading that White Hot: The Rise & Fall Of Abercrombie & Fitch needs to be added to your watchlist immediately, watch the trailer here:
Joining the binge-watchable ranks of The Tinder Swindler and recently released Bad Vegan, White Hot takes a magnifying glass to the All-American pop culture phenomenon that was Abercrombie & Fitch, and finds an organisation rooted in discrimination at every level lurking beneath the surface.
From the outside, bare-chested male models smoldered around dark stores playing nightclub beats. But internally, outrage, scandal and greed bubbled within the company, who were repeatedly accused of firing people on the basis of their looks and refusing to hire a woman because she wore a headscarf.
As the exposing trailer suggests, exclusion was the root of the success of Abercrombie. However, as one participant duly notes: “They didn’t invent evil. They didn’t invent class. They just packaged it”.
The history of the clothing store is a long one, and it hasn’t just risen from the ashes like a consumer-focused phoenix once – it has done so multiple times.
Provocative imagery and scantily clad models were used to sell their products – something we all became used to seeing, especially on the coveted mini shopping bags – and sales skyrocketed to a mighty $4.5 billion (£3.4bn) by 2012, according to Business Insider.
As well as receiving backlash over a particularly offensive line from Asian American customers, a class-action suit was also brought against the retailer in 2003 over discriminatory hiring practices.
While there was a general lack of body diversity and inclusive sizing, the brand really began to lose public interest in the late 2000s. Perhaps it had something to do with CEO Mike Jeffries comments around his vision for the brand. He consistently spoke about sex appeal, and in 2006 said:
“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.”
We’re sure these comments and the depths of the lawsuits will be delved into in more detail – all things we cannot wait to see explored on the small screen. While further details about the documentary have been kept somewhat under wraps, we can’t wait to see how it’ll all unfold when we stream the documentary.
White Hot: The Rise And Fall Of Abercrombie & Fitch is available to stream on Netflix now.