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Recommended: White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch on Netflix

America's most proudly elitist brand gets dissected in a sharp, absorbing doc.
  • Former Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries in an image from White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch. (Photo: Netflix)
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    White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch | Netflix
    Documentary film (1 hour 28 min) | TV-MA

    What's White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch About?

    Former employees, from cashiers to executives to models, discuss how Abercombie & Fitch intentionally became an elitist brand for preppy white people, ensuring anyone outside that mold was sidelined or ignored. 

    Who's involved?

    The documentary is directed and produced by Alison Klayman, who continues her exploration of Gen X culture after directing the Alanis Morissette doc Jagged for HBO.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    This film succeeds by doing just enough. In 90 minutes, it tracks Abercrombie's rise as an affordable but aspirational brand, demonstrates how the store excluded anyone who wasn't white and beautiful, and explores the fallout after social media gave people a platform to denounce that approach. The interview subjects are spot-on, since many of them were actually in the board room or the stock room when the company was at its peak, and the archival footage of shirtless models standing by store entrances should fire the sense receptors of anyone who went to the mall in 1998.

    The doc doesn't spend much time exploring the larger cultural forces that allowed Abercrombie's judgmental attitude to thrive. That's refreshing, since films like these can feel often shallow when they try to cover too much in a short running time. Besides, we don't need a scholarly treatise on racism and classism; the fetishized "Abercrombie body" says plenty about these topics all on its own.

    Pairs well with

    • The Curse of Von Dutch (Hulu), a startling docuseries about the criminal behavior behind the brand that made those trucker hats. 
    • Physical (Apple TV+), the comedy series about aerobics, another body-focused, mall-friendly craze.
    • The Bold Type (Hulu), the Freeform series about a women's fashion magazine, another part of the body industrial complex. 

  • White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch
    Premieres on Netflix Tuesday, April 19.
    Directed by: Alison Klayman.

    TOPICS: White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, Netflix, Alison Klayman