Things aren’t looking good for Abercrombie & Fitch.
The retailer reported that sales are down 10%, and outlook for the future isn’t great either.
Abercrombie has faced a stream of controversies that have eroded public perception of the brand.
The company’s exclusion of large women resulted in protests earlier this year. Abercrombie has also upset everyone from Taylor Swift fans to family groups to environmentalists.
We revisited some of the retailer’s worst moments.
This post contains writing from former BI reporter Eric Platt.
Abercrombie doesn't sell XL or XXL sizes for large women, despite offering them for men. It also doesn't offer above a size 10 in women's pants. CEO Mike Jeffries 'doesn't want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,' retail analyst Robin Lewis told Business Insider.
After Business Insider's coverage highlighted the brand's exclusion of this group, the company faced a storm of public backlash.
Prior to a legal settlement, Abercrombie was allegedly hiring predominantly from white sororities and fraternities.
Abercrombie and Fitch has faced a number of lawsuits over discriminatory hiring practices -- including recruiting at predominately white sorority and fraternity houses.
In 2004, Eduardo Gonzalez, a lead plaintiff, said he was urged to apply for an overnight stock position and that the store manager favoured two white applicants in a group interview. The company settled and said it would change its recruitment practices.
But the lawsuits for Abercrombie do not end at the interview process. The teen retailer was also accused of shifting mostly non-white employees and those who were less attractive to the stock room, away from customers.
Then, in 2009, the company was rocked by a lawsuit in the U.K. when managers allegedly forced a 22 year-old employee with a prosthetic arm off the selling floor.
Instead of calling employees store associates or cashiers, like most retailers do, Abercrombie calls them models.
Most of the company's employees are not actual models, but teenagers ringing up jeans at a register or opening fitting rooms.
Even so, Abercrombie refers to employees who work in front of customers as 'models.' The teen retailer used to call them brand representatives, but made the switch in the 2000s. Those sent to the back to unload shipments and restock the front are called Impact Team members.
In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries himself said that his business was built around sex appeal.
'It's almost everything. That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that,' Jeffries said.
The t-shirt read 'more boyfriends than t.s.,' a reference to Swift's turbulent love life. Abercrombie pulled the shirt after the country singer's ardent fans inundated the retailer with threats and complaints.
Abercrombie also pumps its stores with its men's cologne: Fierce. Front of store employees generally walk the floor every few hours and spray the fragrance. In 2010, Teens Turning Green, a student group fighting to rid toxic chemicals from the environment, protested outside the company's flagship store on 57th Street and Fifth Avenue.
A former employee claimed on Reddit that stores were spritzed every hour.
Bruce Weber, the famed photographer behind Abercrombie's iconic black and white photos, also produced the company's now defunct quarterly magazine, which was called soft core porn by many groups.
The National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families and Focus on the Family both launched boycotts of the company, before Abercrombie discontinued it in 2003.
Abercrombie & Fitch recalled a number of men's t-shirts after Asian American groups boycotted the company.
The t-shirts relied on a number of Asian stereotypes to drive sales, including slanted eyes and cone shaped hats. 'Since some customers have been offended by their content, we are pulling these shirts from our stores. . . . They'll be off the Web site as well,' a company spokesman told The San Francisco Chronicle at the time.
Abercrombie & Fitch angered other retailers after it announced plans to open a children's clothing store on London's Saville Row.
The street, in central London, is famous for its bespoke tailoring and three-piece suits that ended up on giants like Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire. In an op-ed in the Guardian, Gustav Temple wrote, 'This is not the place for T-shirts and cargo pants.'
Abercrombie & Fitch also came under fire for some of the goods it produced for its abercrombie kids line.
Targeted to girls aged 8 to 14, the company quickly retitled them 'triangle bikinis' before pulling them from its website and stores.
Following the success of Urban Outfitters, Abercrombie tried to get on the eclectic bandwagon, but ended up alienating customers.
Abercrombie's Facebook community doesn't 'understand Abercrombie's styling' and think the brand 'is straying from their original design roots,' Eric Beder, an analyst at Brean Murray Carret & Co., said in a note to clients.
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