MagazinesPost Magazine

Rant

Hannah Hodson

 

It's midday and I'm deafened by cheering and screaming. It might feel like it, but I'm not at the Rugby Sevens - I'm on Pedder Street in Central. Men and women, young and old, are staring up with smiles stretched across otherwise confused faces. They are being waved and winked at by half-naked men hanging out of French windows. Bemused police officers patrol the packed pavement while the more excitable spectators, sensing a photo op, throw themselves at the life-sized Ken dolls. It's a shop opening, but not just any old shop opening: it's the mighty Abercrombie & Fitch!

It appears you need the legs of a supermodel, the waistline of a seven-year-old and hair by Toni & Guy to be one of those employed to wander the store, occasionally asking shoppers, "How ya doin'?" But how does this sit with the chain's claims of "diversity and inclusion", which, according to the company website, "are key to our organisation's success"?

In June 2009, A&F was challenged by Riam Dean, a law student who worked in the company's London flagship store. Dean, who was born without a left forearm, was told her appearance breached the "company's look policy" and she'd have to work in a stock room. Women wearing the hijab have been sacked for contravening the same policy. And there was the T-shirt bearing the slogan "Wong brothers laundry service - Two Wongs can make it white" next to caricatures wearing Hakka hats that drew accusations of racism.

The honed employees with perfect skin who decorate the Central store reflect an all-American stereotype at odds with the wider community. In the week that the Paralympics Games get underway, spare a thought for the two main victims of abuse here: the words "diversity" and "inclusion".

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or