Abercrombie & Fitch is in the process of a transformation.
One major change? The retailer now sells black apparel. This is a sharp detour from its previous policies regarding the colour.
Back in 2013, Business Insider’s Ashley Lutz reported that the company was staunchly against selling black apparel. Further, according to the company’s stringent dress code, employees were forbidden from donning black apparel, at both the retail and corporate levels.
Much of the blame lay with then-CEO, Mike Jeffries.
“Management will tell people that Mike hates the colour, and so we’re not supposed to wear it to work,” an anonymous employee told Business Insider then. “It even applies to coats in the winter.”
Abercrombie & Fitch confirmed that it didn’t sell black apparel, too. Here’s what the company told Business Insider in 2013:
“Abercrombie & Fitch does not sell black clothing and discourages wearing it at our home office and in our stores, because we are a casual lifestyle brand and feel black clothing is formal. We have nothing against black clothing and feel it is perfectly appropriate for things like tuxedo.”
Now, black apparel is visible all over the company’s website.
This is arguably a part of the company’s desire to change the way consumers perceive it. Additionally, Chairman Arthur Martinez told Business Insider in November that the company was trying to appeal an older consumer than it previously was selling to.
The retailer has shifted its sartorial vision recently, arguably in hopes of triggering a renaissance. Though the iconic logos are still visible, the company appears to have mostly eschewed fratty, preppy clothes for rugged apparel and classic, sophisticated apparel for its men’s and women’s lines, respectively.
The company also loosened its notoriously stringent “look” policy last year. The former rule set “banned French-tip manicures, certain hair-styling products and, among other things, mustaches,” Lindsay Rupp at Bloomberg wrote at the time. The policy was so strict that it resulted in a class-action lawsuit and a lost Supreme Court case in 2015.
However, “they still can’t wear extreme makeup or jewellery, but the rules are gentler,” Rupp added. As a part of this rebranding, Rupp reported that salesclerks would no longer be referred to as “models,” but rather, as “brand representatives.”
Abercrombie & Fitch did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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