The Bournemouth Rock student paper.
See original copy below:
I don’t shop in Hollister. This could be because there aren’t any outlets in the whole of the South West. It could be because I didn’t buy that many branded clothes because I couldn’t afford them. Either way, why do I know so many people care about a shop that I hadn’t even heard of until my college years?
I also know people will hand over a sizable amount of their cash just to have the nine letter word splashed across their body. There is the obvious theory, to wear a brand because it’s expensive and you want people to know that you live in luxury so you cover the product in this label to make sure it’s clear everybody can see it.
Obviously, businesses need their branding, and if we are so taken by it – well done marketing, your job here is done. The question is, when has a company’s brand been taken too far. The brand no longer becomes an aspiration but a real life inequality.
Walking into many high street shops, whether clothing or technology, the store workers are likely to be covered in their products. This is understandable that once starting, as a business you want your employees to do their best for the company, but it is right to start hiring like this.
Hollister is known for their attractive store attendants with many shoppers referring to them more like super models than shelf stackers. These beautiful creatures amongst us mere mortals, display the stunning life you could lead, if only you were slathered in our branded clothing. But let’s back up a minute, why are only the ‘beautiful’ hired while the rest of us look on longingly? As much as keeping in tone with the brand, why are the lookers the only ones hired? Is this not discrimination? In any other working environment you must not hire on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age or race – so surely attractiveness must also not be seen as a legitimate reason not to hire somebody?
Emma Hawksworth was recently approached whilst shopping in a Hollister outlet in Brighton.
“I went in the store as a customer and was at the tills when one of the store managers asked if I was interested in a job there. He gave me his name and store details and took my phone number. I had been at my other job all day and was still in my uniform”
Now Emma is an attractive young woman, but for a store to approach her, even in her supermarket work uniform, and offer the opportunity of a job without any prior knowledge of her previous experience or work ethic s– seems a bit unjust, no?
The same happened for Student Room user Arielle; “I was asked to work in Hollister over Christmas for no reason whatsoever. They just said they’d seen me in the shop and they were wondering if I could work with them as I looked like I would fit in.”
You’d think somewhere along the lines, Hollister would get a slap on the wrist for this type of employment policy but there is a loophole. As a parent company to Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch define their staff members as ‘models’, allowing them to use an employee’s looks to their advantage. Models protect and project the image of the brand through personal style, providing customer service and maintaining presentation standards. It is this ‘look policy’ which has saved its bacon a few times now.
Back in June 2009, a disabled girl successfully sued Abercrombie and Fitch for a store manager trying to cover up her prosthetic arm – as it did not fit in with their ‘look policy’. Riam Dean, a 22-year-old law student from west London, told the tribunal she was removed from the shop floor at the company’s Savile Row branch when management became aware of her disability. Riam consequentially left A&F because of the ill treatment she received.
The way somebody looks should not be a justifiable excuse to discriminate, we all know this, and it’s a human right!
Admittedly, the hiring process does not only work on an immediate employment. As noted by recent employee Emma Hawksworth “I don’t feel they hire staff purely on looks – a firm needs people who can competently do the job required or else they would get nowhere.”
I can’t disagree with Emma, of course if these ‘models’ were only competent for their looks the company would probably run itself into the ground. Nevertheless, the interview procedure is profoundly started on hiring because of somebody’s appearance, and in Riam’s case, the reason why she left.