It's been hard not to watch the epic, flame-out fall of Abercrombie & Fitch with a bit of schadenfreude. In its contemporary public-image heyday, the retail giant represented all that was mainstream and exclusive. It was the uniform of frat bros and mean girls, and everybody who didn’t want to be subjected to their ridicule. And for a while, the company’s stridently Anglo, “all-American” party line worked—A&F was everywhere on young people in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
And it was hard not to notice that fact, of course, because a hallmark of Abercrombie wares was a huge, impossible-to-miss logo flaunting the store from which the ovepriced T-shirt had come. Now, that’s all over— today, the company announced it will remove logos from most of its clothing and attempt to stock trendier wares.
In other words, sales have tanked after a little more than a decade of bad PR and resulting declining sales in the making. It began in 2002, when the store removed, after much protest, a series of shirts boasting designs that were blatantly racist against Asians. Then, in 2004, came the landmark class-action lawsuit that showed Abercrombie had forced minority employees into stock positions, lessened their hours, kept them from advancing, and other egregious and discriminatory practices.
But things seem to have gotten dramatically worse since 2006, and now the company's sales are bad enough to force the company to go virtually logo-less. So, get your popcorn, because here's a handy timeline of the worst of Abercrombie's recent PR fails.
Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.