CEO's odd demands: Flip-flops and Phil Collins

The head of Abercrombie & Fitch has a long list of expectations for the crew of his private plane. Michael Jeffries' rules are coming to light as part of a discrimination lawsuit brought by a former pilot.

By Kim Peterson Oct 19, 2012 2:11PM
Think Van Halen was strange for demanding the removal of all brown M&M's in the backstage candy bowl? Meet Michael Jeffries.

He's the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), and if you were lucky enough -- or is it unlucky enough? -- to work on the crew of his private jet, you had a lot of rules to follow. Jeffries allegedly gave the crew members more than 40 pages of precise instructions on how to dress, act and work while in the air, and some of those demands were, well, a little creepy.

Jeffries' "aircraft standards" manual came to light in an age-discrimination lawsuit from a former pilot, Bloomberg reports.

Jeffries, apparently a big fan of Phil Collins, required that the song "Take Me Home" be played on his Gulfstream G550 when passengers were getting seated for return flights. The manual required staffers to use black gloves when handling silverware and white gloves to lay out the table.

The crew, often made up of male models, had to wear Abercrombie polo shirts, boxers and flip-flops, according to the manual. They also had to wear a "spritz" of Abercrombie's cologne. The crew could not wear winter coats unless the temperature fell below 50 degrees.Image: Paper airplane made of money (Tetra Images/Corbis)

An Abercrombie lawyer told Bloomberg that the lawsuit is without merit.

The manual allegedly even had instructions on what to say to Jeffries and his live-in partner, Matthew Smith. When asked for something, a crew member had to say "no problem" instead of "sure" or something else. Jeffries even had specific seating arrangements for his dogs.

CEOs probably have all kinds of bizarre rules for employees, but what's unusual in this case is that they came to light. The manual is part of a lawsuit filed two years ago in federal court by pilot Michael Bustin, who said a younger man took his job after he was fired.

The lawsuit has surfaced at a difficult time for Abercrombie. The company's share price has fallen more than 50% in the past year to $31.87 Friday. Abercrombie's preppy, clean look isn't as popular anymore, and the company hasn't changed with the times. It's been closing U.S. stores in favor of expanding online and internationally, but the global economy hasn't been that supportive. Teens have been flocking to the likes of Ralph Lauren (RL) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO).

Abercrombie has been mentioned as a buyout target and has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs (GS) to help it deal with pressure from unhappy investors.

And now, in honor of Phil Collins, I've come up with a few other songs of his that might better describe Abercrombie's faltering business.

Take it away, Phil:

"Long Long Way to Go"

"Can't Find My Way"

"Can't Turn Back the Years"

"I Don't Wanna Know"

"It's Over"

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Oct 19, 2012 3:55PM
Someone ought to kick this rich p.o.s. out the airplane when it's in mid air.   He has no business working for any company, lacks business ethics, and civility.  Thinks the world revolves around him.  Let him grovel like a dog begging for food and a job.  Shame on Abercrombie and Fitch for not demanding more of their executives especially one who oversees the entire company.  Just pathetic.  Corporate Greed at it's worst!!  Needless to say, I will boycott this company. 
Oct 19, 2012 4:11PM
A company that sells fifty dollar tshirt and caters to vanity has a freak for a CEO?  Big surprise.
Oct 19, 2012 3:25PM
they probably have to dress up in fitch and ambercrappy all the time on the plane.. how sad
Oct 19, 2012 3:26PM
Flip-flops, Phill Collins and no  minortites unless forced to do so by the courts!
Oct 19, 2012 4:24PM
Boxers? really? thats creepy. thats UNDERwear. not meant to be worn as normal OUTERwear.
Now this is just weird. Really, you need someone with a lot of time on his/her hands to actually create a manual listing these sorts of details. Having to say 'no problem' instead of 'sure' is really a waste of time and energy.
Oct 19, 2012 5:25PM

I cant imagine what those poor dogs go through! what a bunch of ego maniacs ! I am glad that these former employees spoke up !  A little wealth and it goes to peoples heads. Goes to show that even the gays can be corrupted and thats a sad day for the gay kingdom! I would expect better treatment of your fellow men , I would expect respect towards all employees , specially seeing how hard it has been to gain equality for gays in the USA! When straights like myself see this it begs the question if I am working for the right side of justice or if perhaps I should join the conservatives since these two are acting like the worst the conservatives could offer....shame on you two CEO AND LIFE PARTNER...YOU MAKE EVERYONE LOOK BAD!

Oct 19, 2012 4:49PM
Having to listen to Phil Collins would be bad enough by itself.
Oct 19, 2012 5:26PM
A pilot flying a G-plane in flip-flops?  I don't think so!
Oct 19, 2012 4:45PM
Bosses with power do this all the time.  Like when the governor of a state made an elevator that had up to then been for the public restricted for his private use  (Gov. Romney, Mass. 2003-2007).
Oct 19, 2012 6:51PM
Oct 19, 2012 4:18PM
Oct 20, 2012 11:23AM
The smell of cheap perfume is outrageous walking into their stores.  I can't stand it and my wife can't breath with her asthma.  This seems to typify their CEO's complete attitude and his fall from grace is no accident.  Can't wait to see them go broke.
Oct 19, 2012 8:25PM

I saw that plane on the runway in SF a couple years ago.  It has "Pillowbiter Express" printed on the tail section.

Very appropriate!

Oct 19, 2012 7:18PM

Isn’t this the same company that wanted to sell crotchless panties and pushup or padded bras to little (13 and under) girls? I'm now convinced that there is something really wrong with this guy.



Oct 19, 2012 5:28PM

Whos going to save those poor dogs from these two!!!!??? they probably make them dress up Abercrombie doggie wear, drink designer water, get baths every day, I hate to think what they do to them if they should have an accident and no doubt any behavior problem is dealth with euthanizia...shame on them!


Oct 19, 2012 5:59PM
Creepy? Yes, but probably paid well.
Oct 19, 2012 4:49PM
Another example of a bunch of fudge packing liberals taking it to extremes.  These are your Oboma voters at their best. I'm a JC Penny v-neck guy myself.  Shopping for a 60 buck t-shirt with a bunch of rump rangers is not gonna happen.
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