If you walk into any Abercrombie & Fitch store, the first thing you’ll notice is that it smells exactly how you remember, classy. Despite defining fashion in the early 2000s and 2010s, the company went out of style years ago. But Abercrombie is making a major comeback garnering millions of views on social media. With these numbers, it’s no secret that consumers are obsessed with this throwback brand. But is Abercrombie fast fashion?
Abercrombie is a fast fashion brand. While its products are expensive and targeted toward more mature and wealthier individuals, these products are mass-produced, and not all of them are produced sustainably. However, Abercrombie is slowly making efforts toward sustainability. Read on for more about Abercrombie & Fitch fashion brand.
About Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the world’s oldest fashion brands, founded initially as a provider of outdoor wear for outdoorsmen and experienced hunters in 1892 in Manhattan, New York. This American fashion brand was founded by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, and it focuses on creating casual wear for men, women, and children.
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The company produces and sells clothing, shoes, accessories, swimwear, and fragrances in over 850 stores worldwide with over 40,000 employees. It is a flagship brand of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., which owns other Abercrombie brands, including Abercrombie Kids, Hollister Co., and Gilly Hicks.
In the early 20th century, Abercrombie & Fitch grew and had famous consumers from President Theodore Roosevelt to Ernest Hemingway. However, from the mid to late 20th century, it struggled to compete with cheaper competitors and went out of business for some time in the 1970s.
Eventually, after a series of reinventions, this fashion company became publicly traded and was relaunched by the new owners. It began to gain popularity by focusing on teenagers at the beginning of the 21st century.
Abercrombie fashion brand has always tried to market itself as an upmarket high-quality provider of accessories and clothing like All Saints and other brands. But, despite the frills of quality and successful marketing to build prestige, Abercrombie struggles to compete with cheaper fast-fashion brands like Aritzia, Aerie, H&M, and Forever 21.
Is Abercrombie a Fast Fashion Brand?
Fast fashion describes a business model involving the mass production of goods throughout the year and selling at low prices. Fast fashion relies on cheap labor, cheap and often low-quality materials, and rapid production and distribution systems. Fast fashion brands are famous for high turnover of new styles and collections, frequently introducing new designs.
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According to the definition, Abercrombie qualifies as a fast fashion brand. Despite having roots in high-quality items, the modern brand has dramatically deviated from its heritage. At the same time, it attempts to market itself as an edgy, high-quality brand; Abercrombie & Fitch products are cheaply produced in Asia.
Most of their clothing is mass-produced in the Philippines for as cheap as possible, then shipped to their 850 stores worldwide, where they are sold at a huge markup. This is the definition of fast fashion in its purest form, even if the brand identifies itself as more consistent than other brands replicating high fashion.
Abercrombie & Fitch’s business practices make it one of the biggest fast fashion brands despite their higher prices compared to other brands like Shein and H&M.
Is Abercrombie Sustainable?
Abercrombie & Fitch is taking various measures to reduce its environmental impact in association with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. However, it is still not able to achieve full sustainability.
The majority of fabrics the company uses are either natural without relevant certification or synthetic petroleum-based fibers. Also, Abercrombie only uses a small proportion of organic materials like organic cotton or semi-synthetic fibers or recycled materials such as regenerated nylon and recycled polyester.
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However, according to Good on You, its environment rating is ‘not good enough.’ While it’s transitioning to more eco-friendly practices, there is no evidence it’s taking meaningful action to eliminate hazardous chemicals and mitigate the impact of climate change on our planet. Also, there is no evidence of a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.
Additionally, Abercrombie & Fitch does not use any exotic animal hair, skin, angora, or fur. However, it uses wool, leather, silk, and down feathers to produce most of its clothing pieces. It states that it uses down certified by the Responsible Down Standard and wool sourced from non-mulesed sheep.
Abercrombie also traces most animal products to the first stage of production. But its animal rating is ‘not good enough’ because despite having a general statement about minimizing animal suffering, it doesn’t have a formal animal welfare policy.
Abercrombie & Fitch also launched sustainability goals focusing on three main areas, including;
i) Product Goals
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Abercrombie & Fitch has already sourced 100% of its down from Responsible Down Standard certified sources, achieving its 2025 goal within one year of implementing it. Additionally, it sourced 13% of its cotton through Better Cotton, intending to reach 25% by 2025. However, the company’s sustainability goals are still in the initial stages of production, and the company is yet to achieve its goal of responsibly sourcing 100% linen and wool.
The company also has goals to increase the use of recycled polyester to 25% and expand workers’ capacity to 50,000 workers. Furthermore, like other fast-fashion retailers, Abercrombie & Fitch brands also participate in the fashion resale marketplace. It partnered with the thredUP in 2020, allowing consumers to send any brand of gently used children’s and women’s clothing to thredUP.
ii) Global Home Office Goals
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Regarding global home office goals, Abercrombie & Fitch strives for a 50% waste reduction by 2025 but has achieved a few. The company pledges to continue recycling 100% of cardboard, fabric, e-waste, and denim scraps across the board.
Also, waste reduction goals include reducing paper and food waste. To achieve this, Abercrombie & Fitch Company partnered with a service provider in 2021 to collect and compost food waste. The company’s associates also saved over 630 trees by printing 86% fewer pages to curb paper waste.
Abercrombie is also training associates on how to deal with human trafficking and hopes to achieve 100% success by 2025.
iii) Global Stores’ Goals
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Operating over 800 stores globally, Abercrombie aims to recycle 100% of garment polybags used in these stores and also 100% of hazardous waste in domestic stores. The company is also working to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.
Despite these sustainability initiatives, Abercrombie & Fitch continues to be a fast fashion company. It is slowly transitioning to more eco-friendly practices. However, it still needs to step up efforts to lessen the climate change’s impact on our planet.
Is Abercrombie Ethical?
Ethical fashion brands focus on sustainability, social responsibilities, and fair labor prices. Unfortunately, despite Abercrombie’s efforts in sustainability, it falls short in other areas.
In 2021, Abercrombie & Fitch received a 21-30% score in the Fashion Transparency Index based on how much information it discloses about its environmental and social policies, impacts, and practices. It publishes a list of its suppliers on its corporate website but does not disclose information about human rights and labor law violations.
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Abercrombie has a code of conduct that applies to its subcontractors and suppliers based on the International Labor Organization’s set regulations. However, it doesn’t show any labor certification standard that ensures decent living wages, good working conditions, safety, and health for workers in its supply chain. Also, Abercrombie doesn’t provide evidence of 3rd party audits that takes place to monitor the working conditions.
The company has often been criticized for its body-shaming and discriminatory practices. For instance, XL and XXL sizes weren’t produced and sold by Abercrombie & Fitch for a long time. Former Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries once said that they don’t want larger people shopping in their stores and that they hire good-looking people in their stores because they want to market to cool, good-looking people. He also explained that there are cool and popular kids and not-so-cool kids in every school, but they only target the cool kids.
In addition to the selling of offensive slogan t-shirts, Abercrombie was also accused of discriminating against Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, and women by biasedly offering them floor sales positions and store management positions to Caucasian males.
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From the examination of the various brand aspects, it is clear that Abercrombie is a fast fashion brand. However, the company is making significant efforts to improve its sustainability rating. But there is still a lot to be done to reduce climate change’s impact on the planet and improve ethical production issues.
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