Sunday consisted of a nice walk to the beach with Jeff and Ron and then sitting in the grass and watching the world go by. Jeff’s roommate came by. His name is TJ and he is a manager for a local Abercrombie and Fitch store. He and some gal were out ‘recruiting’.
The A & F company was paying them 8 hours worth of time for finding hot people at the beach to come work for their company.
After all of the legal problems Abercrombie has had, I couldn’t believe they would allow a practice like this to continue. After the asian T-shirt fiasco and the lawsuits about relegating blacks to the stockroom. TJ was one of those people that you meet and you immediately think – Good God get real. He is very much into his own appearance and fabulosity. He considers dating hot guys an accomplishment and evidently in this case, a job skill. A very heated debate opened up between TJ, Ron and myself about the very practice of ignoring applicants that have actually applied to work at your company and spending an afternoon walking around shirtless and showing yourself off in order to recruit for a retail clothing company. Ron and his friends have all long dropped A & F from their shopping rounds after their racist policies and irresponsible management had been revealed. Ron got really angry – especially since TJ is a fellow Filipino who is justifying his company’s behavior (while admitting to taking a payout from a class action lawsuit in the same breath). He’d been part of a suit that found major discrepancies in the promotion of white versus non-white employees. TJ kept saying that they were on the beach scouting for ‘fun, collegiate, out-going’ people’ people that you want to be friends with – that at an A & F store you all want to be friends. Puhleez – it’s a frigging retail clothing store. He defended that the brand had a certain look. I asked how many non-white models are in their catalogs. Evidently there is a now an asian model – though he is tall and just as Caucasoid as his companions.
I didn’t get to drag out how disgusting I thought that so many gay men drop(ped) thousands of dollar in their stores and they never once advertised in a major gay magazine – while bathing their catalogs in the gay gaze. His gal argued that the brand was hugely successful in Japan so they must be doing something right – this really lit Ron up and he lashed back that their clothing is not designed for the frames of most asian bodies and that the Japanese that buy it are trying to buy into some image of whiteness.
I think what baffled me is that even after all the problems the company has had, they would still allow employees to recruit in such an obviously unequal opportunity employment fashion (TJ even arrived to the conversation pronouncing ‘Everybody here today is ugly!’). That just seems like such a massive legal exposure for the company and an HR nightmare.
When Ron gets passionate about an argument he gets so angry that he can’t talk – though I have to admit I like to see him passionately defend his views on something. TJ and friend maintained that A & F was doing just fine and that their expansion overseas was more about success than in trying to extend a brand that was dying in the States. He said that it was just a few bad managers and that things are different – I just don’t see any effort on the company’s part to publicly admit to the problems and change their perception.
At least in Chicago, everyone seems over the store. I just can’t spend $50 on a fucking T-shirt.
Jeff argued later that TJ was really a good guy and that one-on-one he was really sweet and kind – to that I say give me a break. If I had an image to uphold like that I would be so exhausted all the time.