Movie Review: White Hot – The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch
White Hot reveals how a crew of older white men branded a generation through grooming and exclusion.
White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch
Directed by: Alison Klayman
Running time: 1 hr 28n mins
Rating: Parental Guidance
Now Streaming on Netflix
By Katherine Monk
It was all repulsive. But there was a detail in the Jeffrey Epstein story that seemed particularly gross, and it was the fact that Epstein was allowed to call himself a talent scout for Victoria’s Secret. Thanks to his friend who owned a host of retail chains, Epstein had licence to approach and solicit pretty young people looking for fame. And by all accounts, it seemed to work — not just for him, but other older men seeking close contact with the fresh and beautiful face of youth. This is just one of the many gag-inspiring details offered up in White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch.
A new documentary from director Alison Klayman of Ai WeiWei – Never Sorry, we learn Epstein wasn’t a one off. Many others in the circles of privilege — such as high-end fashion photographer Bruce Weber — may have used his position at Abercrombie & Fitch in the same way.
Featuring interviews with former employees and executives, we learn how a legacy brand that catered to wealthy hunters and country gentlemen was turned into a teen label that used half naked bodies to sell fast, cheap fashion.
An antiseptic dissection of the mall chain that defined a decade of WASPy aspiration, White Hot peels back the flannel and Oxford cloth of Abercrombie & Fitch to reveal a merchandizing plan rooted in exclusion. Featuring interviews with former employees and executives, we learn how a legacy brand that catered to wealthy hunters and country gentlemen was turned into a teen label that used half naked bodies to sell fast, cheap fashion. We hear from the “armpit guy” who graced a million shopping bags with his chiselled torso, we also hear from the sales representatives who just weren’t white enough, or good looking enough, to keep a job folding graphic Ts.
Not that it will come as a surprise to anyone who came of age in the ’90s, but the whole movie essentially proves Abercrombie & Fitch became a brand that didn’t just celebrate preppy whiteness, its corporate culture practiced a form of cultural genocide that went out of its way to ridicule and diminish the rising tide of multiculturalism lapping up in malls around the nation.
THE EX-PRESS, May 1, 2022