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Who fits the Abercrombie look?

June 15, 2009

If walking past the overpowering cologne smell and mindnumbing music at Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t nauseate you the way it does me, here’s something that certainly will: apparently employees with prosthetic arms don’t match the strict “look” policy. Riam Dean, a 22-year-old law student in London, is now suing the company for discrimination.

Via Mail Online:

After being told she had got the job she went along to an induction day where she was issued a 45-page handbook listing in minute detail the company’s strict Look Policy.

It stipulates that staff must represent a ‘natural, classic American style’ and instructs them on everything from how to wear their hair (clean and natural) to how long they should wear their nails (a quarter of an inch past the end of the finger).

She was also given a uniform of jeans and a polo shirt, although the company handbook does state that sales associates can wear their own clothing as long as it is in ‘Abercrombie style.’

Miss Dean, who normally wears long-sleeved tops to disguise the join between her upper arm and artificial limb, says she was told to buy a plain white cardigan to wear over her uniform…

‘A worker from what they call the “visual team”, people who are employed to go round making sure the shop and its staff look up to scratch, came up to me and demanded I take the cardigan off.

‘I told her, yet again, that I had been given special permission to wear it,’ she recalled.

‘A few minutes later my manager came over to me and said: ‘I can’t have you on the shop floor as you are breaking the Look Policy. Go to the stockroom immediately and I’ll get someone to replace you.’

Absolutely disgusting. Apparently Abercrombie didn’t learn its lesson after settling a $40 million law suit over discrimination issues here in the U.S. in 2004.

  1. Thomas permalink
    June 16, 2009 12:52 pm

    Makes you want to buy a sewing machine. I have managed to acquire all of my clothing for free for the past 3 years by tailoring other (college students) castoffs to my needs. Has anyone else had success using clothing in a way that does not support business like this?

  2. Alison permalink
    June 16, 2009 3:51 pm

    The best I’ve been able to do so far is to avoid shopping malls! I’m open to suggestions…

  3. Dawn permalink
    June 22, 2009 1:32 pm

    That is awful but unsurprising. A&F is so heteronormative and sexist it’s ridiculous, so when they treat someone like shit who doesn’t fit their narrow image of a young American woman it makes sense.

    When I was 14-16 I occasionally shopped at A&F (on the rare occassion I could afford it, like my birthday or a holiday), and one time I went in specifically for a pair of jeans. I found a pair I liked, but there were only sizes 0-4, so I asked an associate if they had them in size 9. She said, “Well, that’s like, the biggest size we have right now so… there might be one on the bottom or in the back,” looking at me like I was a fucking wookie. I never went back.

    Thomas – definitely avoid places like A&F, Ruehl, American Eagle, etc. Try local second-hand and/or vintage shops. You can sell your old clothes and buy new ones, which I always like. It’s like you’re renovating your wardrobe, haha. You could also check out It’s a great site – you can buy and sell anything handmade. Clothing, accessories, artwork, books, housewares, you name it.

    • Alison permalink
      June 22, 2009 5:02 pm

      I had a similar experience at A&F when I was about 14, and have hated that place ever since.

      Great suggestion on that website–but I think you’re talking about

  4. March 9, 2010 9:32 pm

    This is the reason I like Unbelievable posts.

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