Is Abercrombie & Fitch A Fast Fashion Brand?

Screenshot of Abercrombie & Fitch website

Yes, Abercrombie & Fitch is a fast fashion brand.

Abercrombie & Fitch is an American fashion brand focused on casual wear for women, men, and children. It is the flagship brand of the Abercrombie & Fitch Group, who also owns Hollister and Gilly Hicks. It was founded by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch in 1892, and after a series of reinventions, became a publicly traded company in the late 1980’s, meaning today it is owned by shareholders.

The Abercrombie & Fitch Group has over 850 stores worldwide, employs over 44,000 members of staff, and reported $3.71 billion in sales in 2021.

Abercrombie & Fitch is a fast fashion brand due to the speed of production and scale of clothes that it sells.

Fashion Revolution Transparency Rating: 19/100
Good On You Sustainability Rating: 2/5
Remake Fashion Accountability Report Rating: -2/150

Additional Reasons Why Abercrombie & Fitch Is A Fast Fashion Brand

In the past 20 years, Abercrombie & Fitch has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not care for its staff, garment workers, or even customers:

  • In 2022, Netflix released an exposé on the unethical practices at Abercrombie & Fitch called ‘White Hot‘. Within this, it noted how the brand cultivated an exclusionary workplace culture through the 90’s and 00’s.
  • Remake notes that even in 2022, Abercrombie ‘still [does] not offer even a most basic glimpse into their supply chains‘. Despite multiple accusations, lawsuits, and legal obligations to create a more diverse and fair workplace, it is shocking this has not yet been addressed.
  • Remake additionally reports a lack of sustainability commitments at Abercrombie, with no targets to eliminate oil-derived materials, no attempts to move away from a linear growth model, no progress towards its living wage goals, and no science-based targets to reduce its emissions.
  • Ethical Consumer has given Abercrombie some of the worst ratings possible across its environmental, people, animals, and political policies.
  • In 2021, Abercrombie refused to sign the next iteration of the Bangladesh Accord, putting the lives of its garment workers at risk.
  • In the same year, Abercrombie & Fitch reported a 28.8% gender pay gap in the UK, where women earn 71p for every £1 men earn. This is a large jump from 7.3% the previous year. Abercrombie attributes this pay gap to “the data set only including our full-time store employees”, despite “more than 60% of the organisation [being] female”. In reality, this not only highlights a widening gender pay gap, it also shows how many female employees are not being offered full-time employment.
  • In 2020, Abercrombie launched a Recommerce Program in collaboration with thredUp. The program itself could constitute greenwashing, with returned clothes generating credit for more first-hand purchases rather than encouraging true circularity. I previously enquired for more details about the scheme, with no response.
  • In 2018, Abercrombie joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a global alliance of fashion brands, retailers, and similar businesses with the aim of cleaning up the industry. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information in on how Abercrombie is benefitting or improving because of this.
  • During the 2000s, Abercrombie began selling offensive slogan t-shirts, and continued to do so for almost a decade:
    • In 2009, the company was criticised for menswear t-shirts that said “Show the twins” above a picture of a young woman with her blouse open to two men, as well as “Female streaking encouraged” and “Female Students Wanted for Sexual Research”.
    • In 2005, the company pulled sexist t-shirts that said “Who needs brains when you have these?”, “Available for parties,” and “I had a nightmare I was a brunette.”
    • In 2004, the company stopped selling a t-shirt that said “L is for Loser” next to a picture of a male gymnast on the rings after criticism.
    • In 2004, the company sold a shirt featuring the phrase, “It’s All Relative in West Virginia,” a jab at alleged incestuous relationships in rural America.
    • In 2002, the company sold a shirt that featured the slogan “Wong Brothers Laundry Service – Two Wongs Can Make It White” with smiling figures in conical Asian hats, a depiction of early Chinese immigrants.
  • In a 2004 class-action lawsuit, Abercrombie was accused of discriminating against African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and women by preferentially offering floor sales positions (called Brand Representatives or Models) and store management positions to Caucasian males. The company agreed to a settlement of the suit, paying $40 million to the claimants, and revising their internal processes.
  • In the early 2000s, Abercrombie cultivated an exclusionary and discriminatory culture led by then-CEO Mike Jeffries, who famously said “That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that. … In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Sustainable Alternatives To Abercrombie & Fitch

If you’re looking to stop shopping at these brands, I recommend similar designs at Boyish Jeans*, LF Markey*, and Ninety Percent*, as well as more general options in my guide to 150+ sustainable fashion brands, and of course, shopping on my favourite second-hand fashion sites.

This post is part of a larger guide to UK fast fashion brands, which goes into more detail about the issues with fast fashion, why it will never be sustainable, and how to make your wardrobe more sustainable.

Data for this review is taken from the brand’s website, corporate website, Wikipedia, and sites linked throughout. All information is assumed correct at date of publication. Last updated: September 2022.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links (denoted '*')


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