Did Abercrombie & Fitch Go Out Of Business?

In Netflix’s White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch documentary, the once-popular brand becomes an outcast. Did the company ever recover?

White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch follows the titular brand’s decline from a must-have fashion label to a style outcast over the past several decades, leaving many to wonder if Abercrombie & Fitch is still in business. The feature film continues Netflix’s success with documentaries following the massive hit The Tinder Swindler, as White Hot quickly claimed the number-one spot on the streamer’s coveted Top Ten after its release on April 19, 2022. And while the documentary addresses Abercrombie & Fitch’s attempts to rebound after its decline, the current state of the company is left unclear.

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As shown in White Hot, there was no cooler brand to wear around the turn of the 21st century than Abercrombie & Fitch. While the company had been around since 1892, it was purchased by Limited Brands in 1988 and newly instated CEO Mike Jeffries made the label a sensation in the 1990s and early 2000s. Jeffries’s Abercrombie & Fitch was a hyper-sexual brand aimed at teenagers, selling not just the clothing itself, but an idea of exclusivity. The concept worked, and the brand’s popularity rocketed with ads featuring future stars like singer and actress Taylor Swift. It was the brand’s exclusivity, however, that led to its decline, after a major lawsuit was filed in 2003 claiming that Abercrombie & Fitch only hired thin, beautiful, white people.

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Following the lawsuit, the company’s stock plummeted, and Abercrombie & Fitch quickly became the most hated retailer in America, as depicted in Netflix’s White Hot documentary. While it looked like the company was forever finished, however, the brand made major moves in 2017 with the installation of Fran Horowitz as the new CEO ushering in a new era for Abercrombie & Fitch. Since then, the brand has left behind its days of ads featuring the chiseled abs of models such as Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz, The Lost City‘s Channing Tatum, and Belfast’s Jamie Dornan for a more inclusive identity, and Abercrombie & Fitch has recovered substantially.

Whether Jeffries was forced out of the company he had essentially built or simply jumped off a sinking ship, the eccentric CEO resigned from Abercrombie & Fitch in 2014. Two years later, the company’s stock hit an all-time low at under $10 a share. However, a complete rebrand was undertaken following the 2017 hiring of Horowitz. Once she became CEO, the brand reinvented itself, creating a new, inclusive Abercrombie & Fitch aimed at millennial and Gen Z consumers. As pointed out by Business Insider, “this tracks with the values that next-gen consumers want — everybody is a ‘cool kid’ in the TikTok era.”

Departing from the days of overtly sexual ads aimed at teenagers — like those of the boxer-clad That ’70s Show star Ashton Kutcher — the brand now features multi-ethnic models of all sizes. Most recently, the brand has been praised for its campaign featuring Neelam Gil, a model that is a known spokesperson for social advocacy, and in November 2021, Abercrombie & Fitch announced a campaign aimed at anti-bullying. Since implementing the changes, the brand’s stock saw a 271-percent uptick between 2020 and 2021. So, while Netflix’s White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch documentary ends with the brand on the outs, it seems the centuries-old retailer is actually finding new ways to live on.

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