Watch: Trailer Drops for Netflix Doc on Abercrombie & Fitch's Unraveling

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday April 3, 2022
Originally published on April 1, 2022

Netflix has just dropped the trailer for "White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch," a documentary about how an iconic label became a cautionary tale thanks to lawsuits spurred by "discriminatory marketing campaigns and hiring practices that continued an 'all-American' look for teenagers everywhere," IndieWire reported.

"The documentary tackles how the brand was 'selling a potent mix of sex and wholesomeness,' and the repercussions of allegations that Abercrombie was hiring teenage associates based on their looks," IndieWire said. "The suggestive marketing and nightclub scene store design added to the perpetuation of a very narrow definition of beauty."

A voiceover in the trailer points out that, "There's a reason people like that brand: Exclusion is part of our society."

And who got excluded? Those who didn't fit a "young, thin, and white" vision of beauty, the trailer tells us.

Text seen in the trailer quotes A&F CEO Mike Jeffries saying that the company went "after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid..." After saying that "a lot of people don't belong" wearing the company's fashions, Jeffries adds: "Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

"Known for their all-American image and must-have clothing at the turn of the millennium, Abercrombie & Fitch made many young shoppers feel like the cool kids — or like outcasts," the text notes on the Netflix website.

"The new documentary unravels the complex history of the iconic brand that influenced a generation, revisiting the company's exclusionary marketing and discriminatory hiring practices that would eventually engulf the white hot brand in scandal."

The company's practices held sway in its stores as well as its advertising, the doc notes. One commenter who left remarks on YouTube where the trailer can be viewed affirmed this, alleging: "If you were not a certain thin-but-fit body type you were not hired or you were fired. If you were not attractive enough facially but had the "right" body type you were placed in the back to fold clothes and not up front dealing with customers."

The commenter went on to add: "There was also someone who would come down from the corporate office who would judge us to see if we were fit to become models for New York fashion week. It was the most uncomfortable experience because it was very sexually driven."

Among the suits the brand faced was one "that went to the Supreme Court, with the court ruling against the company in 2015 in favor of a Muslim woman who said as a teen she was denied a job because she wore a headscarf," The Hollywood Reporter recalled.

In 2004, a class-action suit "accused Abercrombie & Fitch of discriminating against African Americans, Latins, Asian Americans, and women by preferentially offering positions to Caucasian males," IndieWire detailed. "The brand agreed to a $40 million settlement, and revised its hiring policies as a part of it."

Watch the trailer below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.