NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 25: An Abercrombie & Fitch signage is seen on a store on Fifth Avenue on August 25, 2022 in New York City. The Abercrombie retail store, which also owns the Hollister chain, announced that it expects it's full-year net sales to decline from 2021. The company had predicted that its 2022 sales would be flat or increase. Sales fell 7% to $805.1 million in the second quarter.  (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Image Source: Getty / Michael M. Santiago

The 12 months was 2008.

And that 12 months for my 14-year-old self was characterised by a vital shift in my wardrobe. It was the primary time I ever received a pair of Coach trainers to match my Coach crossbody, and likewise one of many final occasions I might be sporting streetwear. In simply a few months, as an alternative of window looking for Coogi at Jimmy Jazz, we began touring half-hour out of the town to buy Abercrombie & Fitch and its subsidiary, Hollister.

In April, Netflix launched a documentary entitled “White Hot” chronicling rise and fall of Abercrombie & Fitch within the ’90s and 2000s, however whereas the documentary dissects Abercrombie & Fitch as a popular culture phenomenon in white suburbia, it does not showcase the way in which Black children in Black cities embraced the model. But Black individuals have been, and proceed to be, instrumental in A&F’s success, from influencing purchases on social media to buying often themselves.

Search the names of comparable way of life manufacturers on Facebook, and you will find previous profiles of Black children with social handles like HollisterKidd. During my highschool years, it wasn’t unusual to see Abercrombie & Fitch paired with True Religion denims and Cartier frames at a home occasion or a teenage lady at Eastland sporting Hollister with a Juicy starter necklace and Mek denims. Chief Keef even rapped about Hollister in a tune.

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 8:  Abercrombie & Fitch clothing is displayed in one of its stores December 8, 2003 in Chicago, Illinois. A recent report claims that Abercrombie & Fitch discriminates against sales representatives based on their

Image Source: Getty / Tim Boyle

Sure, my relationship with A&F does not seem like that of previous workers within the “White Hot” documentary, but it surely does not imply the world of wealthy white suburbia was a far-fetched idea for me both.

While “White Hot” prefaces that Abercrombie & Fitch packaged white elitism and privilege in hopes of promoting clothes, it does not explicitly point out how the whiteness of the model coincided with the whitewashing of popular culture within the ’90s and 2000s. Films, TV reveals, and even novels depicted preadolescence and early maturity by means of the lens of whiteness, thinness, and wealth. In movie, there was “Clueless,” “She’s All That,” “Mean Girls,” and “Bring It On.” On tv, you may watch “90210,” “The OC,” “Laguna Beach,” and “Gossip Girl.” In the novels I learn as a preteen, there was Lisi Harrison’s The Clique series and Sara Shepherd’s Pretty Little Liars sequence.

Rich white teen tales have been inescapable. What all of us watched would inevitably turn out to be what we desired, and Abercrombie & Fitch merely packaged the need for wealth and exclusivity at an inexpensive value level. With customers naturally being drawn to wealth signifiers, it is a no-brainer that teenagers who have been deliberately excluded in advertising would nonetheless gravitate to A&F’s product.

Of course, the underbelly of the model’s exclusionary advertising scheme was a tradition of racism and sizeism. Discriminatory hiring practices throughout the 2000s led to several lawsuits, an eventual $40 million settlement, and CEO Mike Jeffries’ exit.

But whereas the documentary rightfully condemns the Abercrombie & Fitch tradition of yore, it fails to discover the position that Black followers of the model performed in making it a ubiquitous staple of the 2000s — regardless of not being represented and even welcome. Now, because the documentary brings that period again into the limelight at the moment, Black individuals are as soon as once more excluded from the dialog.

As the model forges a manner ahead, trying to proper its wrongs with extra inclusive sizing and accessible styles, it is also rebuilding its relationship with its Black shoppers. Not solely does A&F often characteristic Black fashions and influencers in its promotional instruments and on social media, it just lately hosted pop-ups on the international residence workplace that includes native Black creators and entrepreneurs.

It’s a small step ahead on a lengthy and winding street towards redemption with Black customers, a group who’ve been loyal to the Abercrombie & Fitch model for many years. And that is a story price telling.

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