I was introduced to Abercrombie in 2001, during the second semester of my sophomore year. My new best friend Sarah had just moved from Colorado to our sleepy California beach town in Orange County. Having also moved just a year and a half prior, I felt a kindred connection with another outsider. We bonded instantly and, like other 15-year-old best friends, we spent all our time at each other’s houses, and in each other’s closets.
In 2008, Samantha Elauf applied for a sales job at an Abercrombie and Fitch in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was denied the job because she wore a hijab, which did not fit within Abercrombie and Fitch’s strict “Look Policy.” Elauf filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Abercrombie and Fitch, and yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in her favor.
It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night and I’m having a meltdown. I’m in the seventh grade and sitting cross-legged on the floor of my mom’s home office. There are dozens of small stacks of white paper laid out across the floor with no discernible organizational method. She knows exactly where everything is, but only because it’s a giant game of “memory” she’s been playing for the last 15 days. It is April, the middle of tax season.
One day in college, on what would have otherwise been a forgettable afternoon, two attractive people approached me outside of my department. The man, with his bionic back, parabolic pectorals and arms fixed at right angles, cut an intimidatingly precise figure. The woman was an implausible series of distends, curves and stares—all unnervingly suggestive. There were no introductions or pleasantries; instead, they presented me with a pristine white card. Looking down at it in hope of an explanation, I read, “Abercrombie and Fitch recruitment.” They stood back proudly and expectantly, letting what I suppose they thought was an honor sink-in. When I showed no response, they resorted to their pitch. They told me that they needed someone like me and that I would really enjoy working at the company. Everyone was exceedingly “cool” and, in fact, it “wouldn’t even seem like a job.”
It’s Fashion Week in NYC, and New York magazine issue is all about the things we wear and the businesses that sell them. One particularly interesting piece comes from Matthew Shaer, who reports about Abercrombie and Fitch’s struggle to keep up in today’s market where “fast fashion” sells.