If you've been following the controversies surrounding Abercrombie & Fitch Co. these last few years, you won't exactly be surprised by Salon's exposé on the brand. But, that doesn't mean it doesn't make an extremely juicy read, the likes of which we don't usually see aimed at such a major retailer. Come along, friends, while all our suspicions about Abercrombie are confirmed.
Store managers "cast" for their model good looks? Totally true, according to the piece's author, Oliver Lee Bateman. He describes being approached at a job fair on his college campus by a guy who looked like "an aging actor who'd been miscast as a teenager in a college comedy." The recruiter's pick-up lines were of the delightfully seedy sort that usually lead to weeping in front of a camera, Fame-style: “Hey, you look collegiate and quality. You play rugby? You wrestle? Student-athlete?” After using the words "collegiate” and “quality” another several dozen times, the guy hired Bateman on the spot — as an assistant manager. Guess his washboard abs made him instantly promotion-worthy.
The employees who aren't exactly thrilled to be there? Also true for Bateman — he confirms that he spent the bulk of his time literally sleeping on the job in the back office, while more competent A&F "brand representatives" ran the store out front. Bateman further filled his 14-hour work days with reading Final Fantasy VI fan fiction, the entire All Music Guide, and "overlooking a staggering amount of employee theft." So far, not totally atypical of anyone's low-wage work days, right? But, here's where the story takes a darker turn.
Bateman also describes his time at A&F as "the year I discriminated against everybody." He describes judging plus-size would-be customers, and gleefully informing them that the store didn't carry larger sizes. Even worse, there were weekly management meetings where they'd grade every store employee on an A through F (see what they did there?) scale based on his or her appearance — and, those grades would be used to decide who got hours, and who remained employed by the store. Yep, it really was that blatant.
Head over to Salon to see more of the shocking/not-shocking truth, including harrowing tales in which upper management demanded Bateman wear more layers, put on beaded anklets, and pop his collars — and, worse, gave even him and his ripped, 220-pound physique a "B-minus." Ouch. We knew aspirational fashion brands weren't exactly bastions of egalitarianism, but to work for this particular company seems to require abs and nerves of steel — and total submission to the tyranny of the popped collar. (Salon)