White Hot: The Rise & Fall Of Abercrombie & Fitch Trailer: The Brand Equivalent Of Peaking In High School

Raise your hand if you were a teen in the late '90s or 2000s who was personally victimized by Abercrombie & Fitch. The popular lifestyle clothing brand had a cultural stranglehold on teenagers across America during one of the most blatantly cruel times in history, selling exclusivity and hierarchical social power in the form of flimsily made t-shirts with sewn-on branding and black and white photos of shirtless men in denim jeans. 

Following the success of Hulu's documentary tearing apart the 2000s fashion brand Von Dutch, Netflix is joining the aughts reexamination party with "White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch." Remembered for their darkly-lit stores and overwhelming odor of perfume and cologne, Abercrombie & Fitch was more than just the go-to fashion brand of the people who made your life a living hell in high school, it was also a legitimately problematic company that made their millions through intentional bigotry. Check out the official Netflix synopsis below.

In the late '90s and early '00s, Abercrombie & Fitch was the first stop for many shoppers on their trip to the mall. Shirtless jocks stood guard at store entrances, selling a potent mix of sex and wholesomeness. Pulsing dance beats and the brand's fierce scent drew in hordes of young people hoping to buy themselves a seat at the cool kids' table. Led by outspoken CEO Mike Jeffries, A&F cashed in on an "all-American" image and enshrined its clothes as must-haves for the new millenium. But over time, revelations of exclusionary marketing and discriminatory hiring practices began to engulf the white hot brand in scandal. Featuring interviews with dozens of former employees, executives, and models, WHITE HOT: THE RISE & FALL OF ABERCROMBIE & FITCH unravels the complex history of the iconic brand that influenced an entire generation.

If you ever thought it was weird that the only people from your graduating class who seemed to get hired at Abercrombie were thin, white, and resembled Republican pundits in training, your instincts were correct. Abercrombie not only catered to this weirdly specific demographic but did their damndest to treat anyone who didn't fit their "aesthetic" feel like absolute garbage.

White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch trailer

Watching this trailer, I couldn't help but think about how a lot of the alt-kids I grew up with worked at Abercrombie & Fitch ... as overnight stock workers. Abercrombie was notorious for hiring goth/punk, and non-white kids to work hours that wouldn't require them to be seen by the public at large, while happily using discriminatory hiring practices for their retail employees. 

Abercrombie & Fitch was eventually slapped with a class-action lawsuit for alleged discrimination against non-white applicants, settling without admitting wrongdoing but paying out $40 million and changing their "fit a certain look" hiring practices. While Abercrombie & Fitch stores do still exist today, it's clear that this film is going to assess the company's heyday, when racism, fatphobia, ableism, and xenophobia were marketed as the way to be. 

The documentary comes from director Alison Klayman, the talent behind films like "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," "Take Your Pills," and the HBO Alanis Morissette pic, "Jagged." Klayman has shown to be a strong voice in the reevaluation of pop cultural moments, so I'm hoping we'll finally figure out why so many people were convinced an ugly moose logo was the definition of "cool."

"White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch" debuts on Netflix on April 19, 2022.