Abercrombie & Fitch documentary explained ‘malls’ and it’s making people feel old

‘When they had to explain what malls were and why people loved them, a small part of me died’

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 20 April 2022 22:43 BST
(Getty Images)

Netflix just dropped the documentary White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, which explores the pop culture phenomenon of the retail company Abercrombie & Fitch. The all-American company thrived throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, profiting off of an image of exclusivity.

But perhaps what has most caught people’s eye is one man’s description of a shopping mall, because apparently people don’t know what malls are anymore.

“Imagine, like, a search engine that you could walk through. Or, you know, an online catalog that’s an actual place,” he explained.

Social media users instantly felt old while watching White Hot. It’s no secret that the rise of online shopping has caused malls across America to close down, but surely there are still shopping mall relics scattered throughout the country that Generation Z still goes to to get their ears pierced.

“Am dying at this guy in the abercrombie & fitch netflix documentary explaining the concept of a shopping mall,” tweeted one user along with screenshots from the film.

“There’s a new doc on Netflix about Abercrombie & Fitch and they’re explaining what a mall is which has made me realise there’s people who are young adults who don’t know what a mall is,” said someone else.

“When WHITE HOT: ABERCROMBIE & FITCH had to take a few minutes to explain that a ‘Mall’ was like going to an ‘Online Store’ where you could find everything in the same place — I never felt older,” shared another user.

“When they had to explain what malls were and why people loved them, a small part of me died,” one person joked. “Which makes sense, because I’m apparently very old, having actually been to a mall many times.”

Abercrombie & Fitch conquered mall culture throughout the early 21st century and became notorious for its attractive sales assistants and use of topless models across shop openings and campaigns.

In 2004, the company settled a $40m (£26m) class-action discrimination lawsuit in the US, after accusations that it filled its shop floors with almost exclusively white staff. In 2015, a young Muslim woman accused Abercrombie & Fitch of discrimination after she was denied because she wore a head scarf. That same year, an employee claimed that Black models were sent home early so they would not be seen during a visit from former CEO Mike Jeffries.

Jeffries — the controversial chief executive who was the driving force behind Abercrombie’s young, attractive, and athletic look — stepped down from the executive position in December 2014 at 70 years old.

After a long history of featuring only thin and majority white models throughout its stores, Abercrombie & Fitch launched a new campaign in 2020 that featured plus-size and diverse models, as part of the company’s rebrand to fit within the body positivity movement.

White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch debuted on Netflix on 19 April.

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