Directed and produced by Alison Klayman, White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch documents the unprecedented rise of a fashion giant led by an unimaginable level of exclusivity.
If you were fortunate enough to grow up in the ’90s, the name “Abercrombie & Fitch” should bring up a host of memories. Their clothes weren’t high-quality at all, but their marketing caught the attention of young white teens, which is exactly who they were targeting. And while A&F wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea (including my own), many wondered what was so special about the brand.
Former CEO Mike Jeffries once admitted that they were after the “cool” kids and the “All-American” young person. Jeffries was also obsessed with looks. He was so obsessed, in fact, that the company made a book called “The Look” for management. It was their responsibility to recruit good-looking people and it was imperative that their looks were in line with Abercrombie’s expectations. For example, acceptable hair, according to “The Look”, is “neatly combed, attractive natural classic hairstyle“. Then, they were very straightforward: “Dreadlocks are unacceptable for men and women.” Biased much?
You’ll hear from former employees on the retail level as well as corporate, former employees that took part in a class-action lawsuit against the company, and they actually address the now infamous “2 Wongs will make it white” graphic tee.
From classism to racism and everything in between, this documentary has it all. I give White Hot an 8 out of 10. It’s not the type of documentary that’s going to change your life, but it does shine a light on all the happenings of the late-’90s and early ’00s; A time period where A&F ruled and its grip on American youth seemed unstoppable.
‘White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch’ will be available on Netflix on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
Photos: Courtesy of Netflix