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Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch: doccie strips bare ‘flagrant ...

Lifestyle

Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch: doccie strips bare ‘flagrant discrimination’

Netflix production tells story of how the trendy teen brand used exclusionary practices to drive soaring profits

Martine Paris

As office life resumes across the US, cautionary tales of corporate misdeeds have been topping the charts on streaming platforms. With The Dropout on Hulu, Super Pumped on Showtime and WeCrashed on Apple TV+, the shenanigans of rogue tech founders have made for compelling docudramas.

But Netflix’s White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, which debuted on Tuesday, focuses on an industry seldom featured in cinema — the mall retailer — and how a trendy teen brand was able to leverage exclusionary practices to drive record profit.

At the centre of the documentary is Mike Jeffries, who served as Abercrombie’s CEO for more than two decades, from 1992 to 2014. He was hired by Leslie Wexner, founder of the company’s onetime parent, Limited Brands, which also owned Victoria’s Secret. Jeffries leveraged a playbook of racy marketing to sell an aspirational aesthetic of the “cool kid” — one who plays rugby bare-chested and dons that “all-American” look — which Jeffries dictated as white, fratty and fit. Celebrities featured in ads included Taylor Swift, Channing Tatum and Jennifer Lawrence, and at the height of its popularity Abercrombie was worth more than $7bn...

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