LOS ANGELES — Abercrombie & Fitch fired back at plaintiffs Wednesday, vowing to fight a federal lawsuit filed earlier this week that accuses the retailer of racial discrimination.
“The allegations in the lawsuit that has been filed against Abercrombie & Fitch in San Francisco are baseless and without merit,” said a company statement. “As a company that prides itself on diversity, we are dismayed by the lawsuit and plan to vigorously defend our company’s good name and practices in a court of law.”
Nine students, including six former employees and three job applicants, filed the lawsuit late Monday in U.S. District Court of Northern California, claiming the retailer often does not hire Latino, Asian-American and African-American employees, and has fired them on the basis of race.
The lawsuit claims the New Albany, Ohio-based firm enforces an “appearance policy” that requires all employees to have an “A&F look,” or “a virtually all-white image that Abercrombie uses to market its clothing.”
The plaintiffs — five Latinos and four Asian Americans — convened at a news conference here Tuesday and spoke of corporate “blitzes,” or visits to several California stores by regional, district managers and corporate representatives. The claim states these visits were to “direct that minority brand representatives be fired, moved to a stockroom or overnight shift or have their hours ‘zeroed out,’ which is the equivalent of termination.”
According to A&F’s statement: “Associates represent American style. America is diverse, and we want diversity in our stores. We do not discriminate. Our policy is to have zero tolerance for discrimination in hiring or employment on the basis of race, national origin, ancestry, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, medical condition, marital status or any characteristic protected by state or federal law.”
The lawsuit was born out of a complaint filed by one of the plaintiffs, Juancarlos Gomez-Montejano, at the Los Angeles branch of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionin December 1999.
“There is reason to believe that violations have occurred,” stated a letter on behalf of the EEOC attached to the lawsuit.
The suit seeks unspecified damages, including back pay for the former employees.A&F, operating about 600 stores with annual sales of $1.6 billion, has taken some heat lately. A class-action lawsuit filed in June accuses the retailer of violating a California uniform law by requiring store employees to purchase and wear its brands on the store floor, an expense the law says the employer should pick up. And then there was the controversy last year over A&F T-shirts featuring caricatures of Asian men wearing rice paddy hats with the slogan, “Wong Brothers Laundry Service — Two Wongs can make it white.” The retailer subsequently pulled the shirts and issued a public apology.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)