• Jini Kong

Abercrombie & Fitch has quietly abandoned one of its most notorious rules

Abercrombie & Fitch is in the process of a transformation.

One major change? The retailer now sells black apparel. This is a sharp detour from its previous policies regarding the color.

In 2013, Business Insider's Ashley Lutz reported that the company was staunchly against selling black apparel. Further, according to the company's stringent dress code, employees were forbidden from donning black clothes at the retail and corporate levels.

Much of the blame lay with then CEO Mike Jeffries.

"Management will tell people that Mike hates the color, and so we're not supposed to wear it to work," an anonymous employee told Business Insider then. "It even applies to coats in the winter."

Abercrombie & Fitch confirmed that it didn't sell black apparel, too. Here's what the company told Business Insider in 2013:

Abercrombie & Fitch does not sell black clothing and discourages wearing it at our home office and in our stores, because we are a casual lifestyle brand and feel black clothing is formal. We have nothing against black clothing and feel it is perfectly appropriate for things like tuxedo.

But in 2014 — even before Jeffries left his post as CEO — Bustle's Erin Mayer pointed out that the company was, in fact, selling black apparel.

Now it's visible all over the company's website.

This is arguably a part of the company's desire to change the way consumers perceive it. Additionally, chairman Arthur Martinez told Business Insider in November that the company was trying to appeal to an older consumer than it was previously selling to.

The retailer has shifted its sartorial vision recently, arguably in hopes of triggering a renaissance. Though the iconic logos are still visible, the company appears to have mostly eschewed fratty, preppy clothes for rugged apparel and classic, sophisticated clothing for its men's and women's lines, respectively.

The company also loosened its notoriously stringent "look" policy last year. The former rule set"banned French-tip manicures, certain hair-styling products and, among other things, mustaches," Lindsay Rupp at Bloomberg wrote at the time. The policy was so strict that it resulted in a class-action lawsuit and a lost US Supreme Court case in 2015.

"They still can't wear extreme makeup or jewelry, but the rules are gentler," Rupp added. As a part of this rebranding, Rupp reported that salesclerks would no longer be referred to as "models" but, rather, as "brand representatives."

Abercrombie & Fitch did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.



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