“Exclusion Is The Root Core Of Their Success”
“They rooted themselves in discrimination at every single level,” As the ugly, seedy truth about Abercrombie & Fitch is laid bare for all to see, it’s unfortunate that this level of discrimination is not an isolated incident. Fashion brands have been notorious for this, while WWE flat-out refused to put the world title on a black athlete for a long period of time. (I’m still bitter over Booker T not beating Triple H at Wrestlemania!)
That’s to say nothing of the videogame industry, which is chock full of sexism, racism and untold levels of discrimination at every level, a lot of which was unveiled last year and since then, nothing has changed. Oh and who can forget Amazon, where employees are given a list of words they can’t say including *checks notes* freedom.
The attention here though is not on a rotten industry but on one company in particular. A company that made discrimination their brand; Abercrombie & Fitch.
As we’re told across this 90 minute documentary, fashion is less about the clothes you’re sold and more about the brand and idea of belonging. Combining the sex appeal of Calvin Klein with the elitism of brands like Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch’s clothing found a niche in the market and exploited it for everything it had.
From only hiring the prettiest white people and relegating black people to the backroom across to championing racist apparel, including slapping “two wongs don’t make it white” (Jesus Christ, who thought that was a good idea?!) across the front of t-shirts, Abercrombie & Fitch seemed to revel in their discriminatory behaviour.
In fact, one case even went all the way up to the Supreme Court after management told a Muslim woman that hiring her and her “black head-scarf” would hurt company sales.
Essentially White Hot covers the rise to prominence for Abercrombie & Fitch, becoming the must-have brand at the end of the 90’s, through to its brand image slowly changing to something far more seedy and less desirable, interestingly as our own interests and sense of togetherness as grown.
Helped by the coming trend of social media and likeminded individuals realizing they’ve all been discriminated against, the second half of the documentary changes tact and uncovers all the horrific practices at the company, including potential sexual abuse and misconduct from their CEO Mike Jeffries.
It’s a pretty shocking fall from grace too, especially considering Abercrombie & Fitch was rated as the sixth most popular brand by teenagers at one point in its lifespan.
This trend of seeing companies or individuals rise to prominence and then crash and burn is a bizarre but engrossing trend this year on the small screen. Inventing Anna, WeCrashed and The Dropout have all tackled this in one way of another, and thankfully that’s a saturated market that White Hot does relatively well to maneuver through.
At the end of the day diversity is a good thing for companies. Workforces should have a variety of different faces from a variety of different races. It’s just a shame that the glass ceiling is still kept intact by rich white CEOs that are stuck in the dark ages. We’ve reached a point where people are tapping on that glass but it won’t be long before someone shatters it completely. Let’s hope that day comes sooner rather than later.
Verdict - 7/10