One of our strongest memories of Abercrombie & Fitch back in the 1990s was being intimidated to walk in.
Partly because we didn’t feel anywhere near as hot as the models they had standing shirtless outside the front doors. But also because we were just out of the closet and not quite comfortable with the notion of someone catching us staring too long at the hot guys.
Or—clutch the pearls as the trendy saying went back then—actually pop a preppy public boner.
As it turns out, the elitist and intimidating approach to retail was all part of the grand corporate scheme over at the clothing store. Today’s new Netflix documentary, White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, explores that in some juicy, scandalous detail.
As the title suggests, the film delves into the meteoric rise and demise of the brand. It also delves into the homoerotic undertones that were key to the business model’s success, in addition to only hiring pretty people who were primarily white.
Sordid tales of discrimination and a questionable corporate culture ended up with legal settlements and lawsuits that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Even though there’s more director Alison Klayman could’ve investigated further, she absolutely succeeded in painting a vivid picture of corporate behavior that was quite troublesome and not only accepted by society at large, but celebrated as a pop-culture phenomenon.
But damn if the photos and videos of half-naked and bare-assed college guys didn’t bring back some feelings.
Tingly-in-our-tummy feelings and anxious ones, too.