Abercrombie & Fitch says no to black

The mall retailer has banned the shade from its stores for being too 'formal.' As A&F policies go, it's likely the least offensive on its books.

By Jason Notte Jul 10, 2013 5:22PM
A shopper leaves the Abercrombie & Fitch UK Flagship Store on Savile Row in London, England (© Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)If you're a retailer with a track record of marginal to nonexistent cultural sensitivity, the last thing you're going to want to do is allow your brand name to appear in a sentence with "banned" and "black."

After losing one lawsuit for wrongfully firing a hijab-wearing Muslim worker and getting scolded by a judge during a second lawsuit alleging similar discrimination, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) has once again decided that its manufactured image trumps all else.

As reported by Business Insider, Abercrombie chief executive Michael Jeffries not only bans the color black from his apparel lineup, but prohibits employees from wearing it.

A statement from the mall fixture's corporate office offers a not-at-all unreasonable explanation:

“Abercrombie & Fitch does not sell black clothing and discourages wearing it at our home office and in our stores, because we are a casual lifestyle brand and feel black clothing is formal. We have nothing against black clothing and feel it is perfectly appropriate for things like tuxedos."

Nothing against it except the fact that you can't bear the sight of it in your stores because you feel it's too “formal.” We'll try to remember that the next time we spot someone in Lululemon yoga pants who isn't headed to a gala, a member of law enforcement in tactical gear who isn't raiding a fall cotillion or a member of the Oakland Raiders who's committing a huge fashion faux pas by wearing black in preseason games before Labor Day.

Then again, criticizing Jeffries for hating black is like criticizing a rainbow for being too colorful. It's just part of who he is. This is the same guy who dictated that his clientele is comprised solely of “the cool kids.” He's also the guy who requires the staff of his private jet to wear only boxer briefs and flip-flops and to endure Phil Collins' "Take Me Home" on return flights.

He also seems to believe that women should come in one svelte form and refuses to stock XL or XXL clothing. His store's largest women's pants are a size 10, where even European competitor H&M has standard sizes up to 16.

Jeffries is going for a certain vibe, and that vibe is "insufferable ignoramus." Don't knock him or his company for living the dream.

More on moneyNOW

Tags: ANFRetail
Jul 11, 2013 1:14AM
I think that Americans stay up all night trying to find something that Offends them..
How just if I just say "no" to A&F? Heck, I've been doing THAT all my life anyway! :D
Jul 11, 2013 3:20AM
A terribly misleading article headline. 
Jul 11, 2013 8:49AM
If you don't like it don't buy the clothes...why people get offended so easy is beyond me. This guy is obviously a jag, but it's his life and his company and his brand, if you want to wear black then work somewhere else, if you want to wear a size 12 then shop somewhere else. It's hilarious that people get mad they cant buy the clothes, when this guy obviously doesn't want you to buy them... 
Jul 11, 2013 12:49AM
Jul 10, 2013 11:55PM
As long as money goes into A&F's pockets, MR. Jeffries can do as he pleases. 
Jul 11, 2013 8:33AM
He's not against black people, jusy black clothes.  You'd think he wanted to overthrow the government or something.
Jul 11, 2013 1:36AM
wonder how long it's going to take before someone accuses them of being racist?
Jul 11, 2013 9:09AM

How did race even get involved in this conversation.


Oh, becauyse MSN is looking for it.


THis article has nothing to do with race, but MSN finds a way byh making a style choice into a race thing that doesn't even exist at all.  WHy even bring up the hijab?

Jul 10, 2013 11:40PM
When I worked for a division of the brand in High School I noticed that black was oddly missing. This headline makes this development sound current, however A&F has NEVER allowed black in any of its stores (Gilly Hicks maybe?). The article also fails to mention something really key...those that work in the front of the store/at the registers are called Models. Those that do not fit the "A&F Look Policy" are banished to the back and are referred to as Impact Team Members. It's a literal slap in the face if you aren't allowed to work in the front of the store. I worked the main room for ladies and I was still stunned at how many people were hired at my store just based on looks. The company gets the majority of its models from the "Models" that work there. My store alone had over 100 "employees," hardly any of which worked in the back. 
Jul 11, 2013 8:11AM
I agree with Croc 15. Who cares.....
Jul 11, 2013 12:17AM
"No black" except for tuxedos and funerals is a fairly typical, old-school preppy rule, with the main exception to the rule being the accepted 'little black dress' for women. No one should really be offended by this- there is absolutely no racial connotation implied. The 'rule' was mostly instated -I believe- because black was a hard color to wash and maintain, and prone to fading. 
The move is actually interesting from a marketing perspective- probably signaling that A&F is potentially becoming a little less 'fratty' prep, and a little more classic, simple prep, like RL and J Crew (some will debate if J crew is true prep, but oh well). Maybe this is to lure more adult, american shoppers. I specify 'american' because it seems to already be quite popular with european, adult shoppers, at least judging by all the adult tourists I see shopping at A&F here in NYC. 
Jul 10, 2013 6:51PM

I don't buy much there but it's a great place to go dear hunting.


Jul 11, 2013 9:06AM

I read the comments,such as who cares,etc.I must agree that who really does care.We have Vets from Korea,Viet Nam and such,who need help mentally.We have them with no food or shelter.Many without arms and legs.Oh the VA does help.But one of the first areas to be cut is the VA.I been in Quantico,Mann,Bethesda,Ellsmere and East Orange.Their are many more important issues out their.Kevin you missed my point I brought this issue one step further.And if you disagree so be it..53% of all men to die in Korea and Viet Nam were black.While the Backs are not Black but American citizen's Lincoln.While at the same time they made up 10% of the population.In my 38 years of practicing law I probably did $1,000,000.00 in free work to all people.The Towns people knew that and came to me.Thank You.Steve.


Jul 11, 2013 10:48AM
As a former manager for A&F...I could pick out a multitude of things wrong with this company and the brand's policy...but honestly....It's clothing....who cares?!?!? 
Jul 11, 2013 8:53AM

So the He-double-hockey sticks what.  Are we supposed to be offended if a Big and Tall store doesn’t sell small sizes.  One of the great things about America is we have choices.  I’ve got a novel idea.  If you don’t like what the store is doing don’t shop there.  Problem solved!

Is everyone working for this company a brain dead fruitcake yuppy/preppy? Anyone who shops here should have a tattoo on their foreheads that says "Vain: avoid at all costs".
Jul 11, 2013 7:35AM
What color was the sack the Muslim worker was wearing?
Jul 11, 2013 10:21AM
As much as I despise A&F for many of their discriminating policies...this one is silly. Who cares if they don't want to sell black clothing? How is that scandalous? MSN's staff answers this question themselves by using an incredibly misleading title, hinting at potential racism, just to get people to read this.
Jul 11, 2013 11:20AM
As a former employee, this is not a big deal at all. The article makes it sound like you aren't even allowed to walk into the store wearing black. This article is completely misleading.

Also, they do not sell any purple merchandise either. The writer of this article should have done more research before blasting the company for absurd reasons.
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