After years of hiring ripped, young men to staff dimly lit stores, Abercrombie has said that they will no longer hire staff because of their physique or physical attractiveness. This is just one of a series of changes to be made to store policies in order to focus more on customers rather than on how employees look, writes Ben Rooney for CNN.
Abercrombie moving on from former CEO’s vision
The company is attempting to update its image after CEO Michael Jeffries left his post last year. It has been argued that Jeffries hurt Abercrombie’s image rather than improving it, at least over the last few years. At one point he claimed that he only wanted “cool, good-looking people” to wear the company’s clothes, comments which were understandably met with criticism.
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Abercrombie has suffered sharply decreased sales and is struggling to steady the ship. Last year saw a 10% drop in sales in the U.S. market, and the new strategy aims to address that. “We are focused on the future not the past, and there is complete alignment that these are the right changes,” said A&F brand president Christos Angelides.
The hiring policy for store employees will now be “more inclusive and diverse,” while employees will no longer be required to wear exclusively Abercrombie clothes, which will allow them to be “more individualistic.” The changes will affect in-store staff, who were known as “models” under Jeffries but will now be called “brand representatives.”
Brand revamp continues in-store
Stores themselves will also be given a new image, moving away from the loud music, low lighting, trees and a smell of cologne which used to characterize their retail locations. There will be adjustments made to the scent, lighting, music and trees to create a “more pleasurable shopping experience.”
We will also see the end of sexualized marketing, with future store openings to be celebrated with fully clothed models. Abercrombie made a name for itself using suggestive imagery in advertising campaigns, but now it will revamp gift-cards, shopping bags and in-store advertising to tone down the raunchiness.
The brand has a lot of work to do to halt its current slide, and the new direction will have to have something special to capture the attention of teenagers.