Coming Up At Abercrombie & Fitch: Diversity, Inclusion

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afPhoto: Courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch.
It's a strange strategy for a brand to cater to only a tiny percentage of its potential audience at the active, constant exclusion of the rest of it. But, a laser focus on rich, white, skinny, popular kids was one of the factors that drove Abercrombie & Fitch to huge success in the early '00s. And, if you didn't fit that mold (maybe you hung out in the parking lot/under the bleachers/in the art room during lunch) — tough luck. With a recent changeover in leadership, Abercrombie & Fitch has also made a shift in its perspective. Just like the cheerleader who eventually graduated college, moved back home, and realized that being a little shit mean girl wasn't doing anything for her anymore, so, too, is AF making moves to undergo a personality change.

First up? A rebrand. Secondly? Actually following through. Recently, executive vice president of stores Amy Zehrer has been put in charge of diversity and inclusion efforts for employees and store associates. While details haven't been laid out yet, we assume that means the brand is ditching its past "model-as-sales-associate" policies, its stores will no longer feel like a WB casting floor circa 2003. (It should be noted that the percentage of non-white associates has already risen from 10% to over 50% in the past 10 years, and Abercrombie & Fitch's senior-level positions boast a high percentage of women.)

With the sales floor resembling the actual world, it shouldn't be long before truly inclusive, diverse ad campaigns and a wider range of clothing-size options become the status quo. And, hey, if the metaphorical cheer captain can change her tune so completely, what's to say the rest of the industry can't follow? (WWD)