Abercrombie & Fitch CEO tells flight crew what underwear to wear

October 22, 2012|By Shan Li
  • The Abercrombie & Fitch CEO likes his flights just so.
The Abercrombie & Fitch CEO likes his flights just so. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)

The chief executive of teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is known for his exacting attention to detail. That apparently extends to how toilet paper should be folded and what underwear his staff wears.

Those tidbits are included in a manual spanning more than 40 pages included as part of an age discrimination lawsuit filed by former company pilot Michael Bustin. The 55-year-old is accusing the clothier of firing him to make way for a youthful pilot that matches the company's brand.

But it is the retailer's "Aircraft Standards" manual that is getting the most attention.

The manual, first reported by Bloomberg News, reveals the exacting and often strange standards dictated by Chief Executive Michael Jeffries.

Male crew working on the company Gulfstream jet, for example, are required to wear Abercrombie boxer briefs, flip-flops and a spray of the retailer's cologne. Servers have to sport white gloves to lay a table and black gloves to move silverware. The song "Take Me Home" must be played when passengers board the plane -- but only on return flights home. And the chief executive's dogs -- identified by name in the instructions as Sammy, Ruby and Trouble -- are to be seated in different configurations depending on which of the three are flying.

Oh, and the toilet paper in the airplane lavatory should not be "exposed" and its end square must be folded.

The hyper-detailed manual reflects the hands-on management style favored by Jeffries, who has been in charge of the company since 1992. He is largely responsible for crafting the company's image of preppy clothing worn by beautiful, scantily clad young people -- a reputation that is bolstered by the models wearing swim shorts who sometimes stand outside its stores.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Pennsylvania will not help the company's image, which has been plagued with controversies in the past. Those include selling padded bikini-tops for girls under the age of 10 and reportedly requiring workers at a Milan store to do push-ups and squats as punishment. 

Abercrombie reported dropping sales and profits in August as its core teen shoppers rein in splurging on expensive threads. The company's stock has dropped more than 50% in the last year.


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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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