‘En El Blanco’, the documentary that unravels the miseries of one of the most wanted fashion brands among young people


The recently released Netflix production explores the pop phenomenon of American firm Abercrombie & Fitch.

Old bag from well known American brand Abercrombie & Fitch.
Old bag from well known American brand Abercrombie & Fitch.

Toya Spencer, former manager of diversity and inclusion Fashion House Abercrombie & FitchShe was stunned in her first meeting with store managers of the popular and distinctive brand in the early 2000’s: “I was stunned to hear them say what kind of workers they want in front of the public, the way they see beauty. had to talk about who was (in their opinion) beautiful and who was not, how people’s characteristics were dissected in detail, and how they judged in interviews who was good and who was not based on their appearance Was confident that these practices will be carried out by personnel selection”.

Toya’s statements include statements from more than a dozen former employees and former company models and investigative journalists who On Target: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & FitchThe Documentary That Netflix Just ReleasedDescribe the hiring practices of this world-renowned brand, from the most wanted and exclusive of wealthy young Americans in the late 1990s and early 2000s to the most hated in the American nation, for their determination discrimination was alleged. only employ people PrettyWhich translated into attractive, muscular white youth between the ages of 18 and 22.

In 2004, Toya was hired to clean up the firm’s image after former employees sued the company for racism (for which she eventually agreed to pay about $50 million). The brand, which has stores halfway around the world, promises to change the way hiring is done: the workforce has grown from 90% in 2005 to 53% in 2011. Still, the identity, spirit of Abercrombie & Fitch, and as key to the exclusionary success remained intact; Actually, the colorful people who were hired after the complaint were kept in the godowns.


The production details the future of the firm, which currently has about a thousand stores around the world (including its subsidiary brands). Its journey began over a hundred years ago as a brand of clothing and specialized sporting equipment such as equestrian, hunting and fishing among its customers Ernest Hemingway or Teddy Roosevelt. In the early 90s it was decided to recreate it and named Mike Jeffries as CEO. He turns the brand upside down with one goal: to be the best ensign among wealthy youth aged 18 to 22 and an image of the “perfect American”, handsome and athletic.

The formula worked and, in a short time, the (very expensive) T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and jeans that impeccable models on posters wore were objects of desire on university campuses and a sign of exclusivity among wealthy American youth. The best thing was to walk down the street with one of the screen-printed A&F bags with bare chests of people who looked like Greek gods. Cold momentarily and enter one of its establishments, dimly lit, with music at full volume, with a scent that adored the young and sickened the adults and at whose door a splendid shirtless man whispered your welcome. done How’re you doing? It was an experience that everyone wanted to have, as it did not exist in any other store in the large malls of the United States. symbols like jennifer lawrence, taylor swift, channing tatumAshton Kutcher, Heidi Klum and January Jones, among others, as featured in the Netflix production.

the stain

But in the mid-2000s, things took a turn for the worse. “One day, without further ado, the manager of the store where I worked told me that she no longer trusted me because I was Filipino,” declares one of the former employees of the brand in front of the cameras. The same happened with another girl. “I asked my boss if I could work more hours apart from cleaning the window. She didn’t tell me, that she was very good at cleaning. A few days later she was not on the shift schedule and when she asked Told me not to worry, that they would call me. They never did,” says this young black woman.

more involved in these cases and together they decided to put a Abercrombie & Fitch class action lawsuit For discrimination, which was later done more, such as the famous complaint of a Muslim girl who was rejected in the selection process for wearing the hijab. The firm, though it reached monetary agreements with those affected, Never admitted to discriminatory or exclusionary hiring,

Mike Jeffries, former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch.
Mike Jeffries, former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch.

However, after these scandals, unethical practices began to emerge. “The recruiters had A manual showing the rules for hiring, which included what they believed to be “beautiful,” says a former employer at the firm. “To be hired in stores, an athletic body, a classic haircut and it was also required to be neat and well-groomed. Dreadlocks were unacceptable and men could not even wear gold chains…”.

But the bomb that shattered the brand’s reputation was Jeffreys’ conversation with a journalist in 2006, which was later published in a report on the fashion store: “Yes, we are an exclusive brand, we are not exclusive.” i like what people don’t Cold Wear our clothes”, bluntly assured this cynical businessman, who himself oversaw every detail of the brand, from the logo and clothing design to the appearance of the shop assistants and the cleanliness of the store shelves.

The scandals, lawsuits and poor financial condition the company was going through forced Jeffries to leave Abercrombie & Fitch in 2014. The director does not wish to participate in the documentary and has not issued a statement. In this regard, after the departure of the executive, the new management of the renewed company has done something like this. In a statement on their social networks, which is reflected at the end of the film, they clarify: “This is a story that took place in the past. We would like to clarify that these are actions, behaviors and decisions in business.” will not be tolerated”.

On Target: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, lasting an hour and a half, directed by Award-winning filmmaker and journalist Alison Kellman, who was honored at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for his documentary Ai Weiwei: Never sorry.

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