Skip to comments.Abercrombie and Fitch Thinks They're Turning Japanese
Posted on 03/02/2005 7:51:00 PM PST by JPhill9123
Abercrombie and Fitch Thinks Theyre Turning Japanese
March 3, 2005
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- by John Phillips
Clothing manufacturer Abercrombie and Fitch and entertainment giant Warner Brothers Studios have been known to use the same marketing techniques to sell their racy flicks and relaxed yet dressy wool sweaters: scantily clad models, the art of seduction and most recently a desire to nip the nips. In regard to the latter, Warner Brothers produced the 1944 cartoon Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips -- A&F allegedly refuses to hire or promote Asian Americans and other ethnic minorities. These charges were cemented in the minds of activists after the popularity of the WB cartoon surpassed Americas love for Tokio Jokio (WB 1943), Youre a Sap Mr. JAP (Paramount, 1942) and Scrap the JAPS (Paramount, 1942); and the powers that be at Abercrombie and Fitch refused to find a spot for the appropriately named William Hung in their soft-core-porn clothing catalog.
In response, employees filed a lawsuit against the clothing manufacturer claiming that A&F hires a disproportionately white sales force, favors white employees for the best positions and discourages minorities from even applying for jobs.
Jennifer Lu, a student at University of California, Irvine and former salesperson at the Costa Mesa location told CBS News 60 Minutes that A&F is dominated by Caucasian, football looking, blonde-hair, blue-eyed males: skinny, tall. Just think of it as the Michael Jackson type - only post puberty. One a side note: researchers at 60 Minutes believe they have uncovered an internal Abercrombie and Fitch memo that will serve as the smoking gun, titled Asian Americans and Hiring: Resurrecting the Great Wall. However, while CBS News typewriting experts are still trying to confirm the authenticity of the documents Dan Rather says hes as sure as a double-knot tied in wet rawhide.
While seemingly insignificant, the result of this lawsuit (and quick settlement) produces ramifications that go far beyond which flavor of the rainbow gets to saddle up for a casting couch audition to see who gets to ring up your jeans: civil rights activists now want to dictate what you can or can not find to be physically attractive. In addition to paying $40 million to applicants and employees who charged the clothing giant with discrimination, the settlement requires A&F to include minorities in their marketing materials, including posters, shopping bags and catalog. In other words, activists arent upset that the company isnt hiring minorities, because they are: as Kathy Lee Gifford taught us buff, Midwestern, fair skinned frat boys arent the ones putting the clothes together in sweatshops. Theyre upset that minorities arent the face of the brand.
But whether we want to admit it or not, in addition to selling t-shirts and flip flops, clothing companies also sell an image. When it comes down to it, the difference between a pair of jeans at Abercrombie and Fitch and American Eagle is about the same as the difference between Mary Kate and Ashley Olson. You buy one or the other because you identify with the companys image or you think its desirable and attractive and aspire to attain that lifestyle.
For the sake of argument, lets assume that the allegations are true and Abercrombie does disproportionately hire athletic, white, male, attractive models and sales clerks. What is wrong with that if thats what their customers want? After all, if youve ever shopped with women or gay men you know that what is on display behind the counter can be just as important as what is on display in the window. And all of us are discriminatory to various degrees when it comes to determining what we find to be attractive. Ellen DeGeneres discriminates against men. Bill Clinton discriminates against pretty girls. Robin Givens discriminates against the sane. Everyone discriminates against Sandra Bernhardt. Why should we force a company to present an image that its research says is not what their customers are interested in?
Jennifer Lu says tough luck: I am now very excited about the policies and programs Abercrombie must implement that came about as a result of this lawsuit. I am looking forward to seeing a more diverse Abercrombie; one that actually reflects the look of America.
Every company is not supposed to reflect the look of America or even to appeal to every person they just need to please their customers. You wouldnt expect Hooters to make Leonardo DiCaprio their spokesman any more than youd expect Lane Bryant to do the same with Calista Flockhart.
In fact, Ms. Lu is damned lucky that the goal of every entity is not to reflect the look of America. According to the Los Angeles Times 57% of University of California, Irvine undergraduates are of Asian descent, while Asians only make up about 11% of Californias population. If the Abercrombie rules applied to UCI, their numbers would be 46% out of whack with Lu in the overrepresented majority. The samurai sword can cut both ways.
This is the beauty of the free market a corrective mechanism infinitely more efficient than meddling extortionists could ever hope to be. If enough customers think A&F is racist they will start buying their pants at a company that they find to be more ethnically diverse. This revelation would be a windfall for Banana Republic a company practically named after the United Nations.
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- John Phillips is a student at Claremont Graduate University and operates the website www.johnphillipsworld.com -- His commentaries have appeared in the Orange County Register
Well then sue "FUBU" brand for being "too Black". And maybe NIKE and the N.B.A. too.
wait a sec... they did the near kiddie porn thing and then they were accused of hiring whities and now... geesh
"i think i'm turning japanese, i think i'm turning japanese, i really think so"
You're not turning Japanese. It's all PROPAGANDA
This story strikes me as pretty dumb, since all the "cultural" references are to anti-Japanese films or samurai swords, while the names named are Chinese, not Japanese.
Seems like the writer has more problems than A&F, not that I'd want to shop there anyway.
OOops, maybe it's the vapors...
Those lyrics were the first thing to cross my mind when I read the headline. :)
FUBU advertising is very multiethnic now.
Thanks for explaining that. I didn't understand the purpose of the Japanese references, and "Jennifer Lu" isn't a Japanese name.
Still, I agree with the author's point that people who disagree with any aspect of a company like A&F can always boycott that company in a free market, especially when similar items are easily available elsewhere.
Yeah, they're all Eminems who proudly call themselves "wiggers" (w- for "white", instead of n-).
Not really. FUBU figured out that other people were buying their clothes and started putting out more targeted advertising towards them. I have FUBU clothes I bought on sale and I'm hardly a wigger. I'd buy Abercrombie too if their stuff wasn't such overpriced crap. Fifty dollars for a tanktop is ridiculous.
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