Abercrombie & Fitch model exposes store’s ‘soul-crushing beauty hierarchy’
A former Abercrombie & Fitch model has lifted the lid on what it was really like to work for one of the most exclusive stores in Britain; from the beauty hierarchy to being a ‘walking six pack.’
Joris Lechêne moved to London from Europe in 2011 in the hopes of becoming a model, but was left jobless and skint after being turned down by the capital’s top modelling agencies.
One day, however, he was approached by a man who asked him if he wanted to attend a group interview to be a model at Abercrombie & Fitch; a high-end store Joris had never heard of at the time.
“The interview was actually bulls***, you could answer literally anything and if you looked like a model you’d get hired,” he explained on TikTok, adding: “Unbeknownst to me, I had just been hired by one of the staples of consumer capitalisms of the 2010s.”
Joris, who now works as an activist, went on to explain how all of the shop’s staff were hired based on the so-called Abercrombie beauty hierarchy.
“I was hired as what they call a ‘model,’ but all that meant was I was a walking mannequin on the shop floor. At first, models were not even supposed to touch the clothes, but by the time I joined they actually encouraged us to help tidy up the room,” he said.
“However, the actual folding and tidying was done by the ‘impacts’. You’d get hired as an impact if you were considered not quite good looking enough to be a model, but good looking enough to get seen by the customers, their uniform was different to ours, just a navy blue polo – you know, so they’d blend into the background.”
Other staff members, Joris explained, were called ‘visuals,’ who wouldn’t “spend much time on the shop floor, but you would see them walking around at regular intervals spraying perfume.” They also took care of the models’ uniforms and anything else that wasn’t for sale.
“Then you have the stock room impacts. By now you’ve got the jist of the Abercrombie beauty hierarchy, so you’ve probably guessed how it was determined you’d work in the stock room,” he added. “And, lastly you had the overnight team doing the restocking and changing the floor display to make it pristine ready for the morning opening.”
And, even the shop floor models were ranked by their attractiveness, with the best looking being placed at the front and the slightly less attractive but still model-worthy staff were placed further back.
One position, which the TikToker said most people felt was a punishment, was called ‘the rail,’ where one male model and one female model had to dance; something which Joris loved to do.
“I got to move by body the way I wanted and got to chat to someone different every hour or so and that was perfect to me,” he said. “And that’s how I survived the soul-crushing Abercrombie ranking system for most of my time there.”
Joris, who has ADHD described the shop’s loud music, dim lights and the smell of the Abercrombie & Fitch perfume being sprayed every 15 minutes as being “like all your senses were being assaulted at once.”
He went on to say that his job as a model was basically to be a “glorified human mannequin,” explaining that they were expected to stand around doing nothing except looking good.
The comment sections of Joris’ videos were inundated with messages from shoppers who were horrified to find out what had been going on right in front of them.