In a major policy shift, clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is eliminating its policy that requires employees to be attractive.
Abercrombie’s so-called “Look policy” rigorously controlled the appearance of the company’s employees so they could mesh with the company’s preppy, super-fit image. Mustaches, French-tip manicures, and even certain hair-care products were forbidden for employees, as were extravagant jewelry and exotic hairstyles. In accordance with the policy, sales associates were referred to as “models,” partly to avoid violating anti-discrimination laws.
The policy was the legacy of now-departed CEO Mike Jeffries, who ran the company for 22 years and forged it into a worldwide brand. Jeffries told Salon in 2006 that his company was built around the allure of sex appeal.
“Good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
While the policy may have contributed to the company’s rise, it also landed Abercrombie in legal trouble. In a lawsuit heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in February, a Muslim woman alleged that she was illegally denied a job because she wears a headscarf in accordance with her religion.
Now, the company is decisively reversing course, announcing that ugly humans are also welcome to join the company’s ranks.
“We will not tolerate discrimination based on body type or physical attractiveness and will not tolerate discrimination in hiring based on any category protected under the law,” Abercrombie brand president Christos Angelides said in a recent letter to store managers, according to Forbes.
In addition to downplaying the sex appeal of its employees, the company also plans to desexualize its marketing, cutting back on its use of shirtless, muscular young men who have been iconic fixtures on Abercrombie materials for years.
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