Striving to be Ethical, Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercombie & Fitch: Bouncing Back from Being “The Most Disliked Brand in America”

on April 14 | in Featured, Reaching the Customer | by | with No Comments

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The Go-To Brand

         Almost 10-15 years ago Abercrombie and Fitch, along with their sister store Hollister Co., were at their prime. High schoolers and middle schoolers were seen sporting the California styled apparel back in the day. As a millennial myself, I recall begging my parent to purchase me the over-priced shirts and pants just to “fit in”. It is not uncommon for brands to market to the young crowd, but it is important that they stay ethical. This week, we will be discussing a few points on how unethical this brand actually has been. There will also be a look into seeing if they have improved or made efforts to in the past few years.

The Past

         Why bring this up? In High School, I landed a job at Hollister Co. and left with better communication skills, surprisingly. I folded clothes endlessly, worked the cash register, and greeted customer “loudly” as I tried to make a presence over the extremely loud music. A couple of years ago I also witness my local Abercrombie & Fitch location close down. To this day, I get a letter obtaining information about the company being sued and a couple of months later receive a small check. Are their high prices ethical? What about them requiring their employees to purchase a dress code approved “uniform”? (mind you it’s almost as expensive as the check you receive from working there) They also use to have “on-call” shifts and schedule their employees only two days a week. This may sound like I am venting, but I have never taken the time to understand this company and how they work. 

         In a Fortune article from 2016, Lucinda relayed the information that Abercrombie and Fitch was one of the most disliked brands in America. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Hollister Co. scored the lowest out of 22 specialty retailers. These numbers were based on the store’s variety of merchandise, checkout speed, and the staff’s helpfulness. 

The Present

         Although the company’s sales continue to fall, they have definitely stepped up their game ethically. In late 2014, they parted ways with CEO Michael Jeffries which allowed them to reinvent themselves. After years of flailing sales, the company moved away from sexualizing advertising, began emphasizing diversity, and increased lighting in stores. Hollister use to call their employees “Models” and now call them “brand representatives”. Honestly, I don’t see a point in either of these labels and believe they should just be called “team members”, “employees”, or similar to Starbuck’s “partners”.

         As of last year, the company confirmed it would be closing up to 60 of its stores in 2018. Although it may seem like a small step to the end of an era, they are still here and well. Abercrombie & Fitch reported strong sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2017. The growth as continued due to greater investment in stores, marketing, and omnichannel experiences. Like mentioned before, they continue to get sued, but I honestly hope they survive the industry as e-commerce and other fashion brands enter the market.

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