In a recent development, Abercrombie & Fitch, the once-celebrated fashion brand, is now entangled in a class action lawsuit in New York. The lawsuit alleges that the company, during the tenure of former CEO Mike Jeffries, was complicit in sex trafficking activities. This legal action sheds light on a troubling chapter in the brand’s history, raising questions about corporate responsibility and ethical conduct within the fashion industry.
Controversial Leadership Under Jeffries
Mike Jeffries served as the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch from 1992 to 2014, during which time the brand experienced both success and controversy. Jeffries became known for his divisive policies and public statements. Notably, he openly articulated the brand’s preference for hiring and marketing to what he referred to as “young, good-looking people.” This approach, while attracting certain segments of the consumer base, also drew criticism for its exclusionary nature.
Allegations of Sex Trafficking
The class action lawsuit follows a recent investigative report by the BBC, which accused Mike Jeffries of exploiting men at events he hosted while CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch. The report claims that middlemen recruited young men, whom Jeffries and his partner Matthew Smith allegedly exploited for sex. The accusations include sex trafficking, sexual misconduct, and rape, with allegations of forced drug use and participation in sex acts by young male models.
The lawsuit further contends that Abercrombie & Fitch provided corporate resources that facilitated the alleged sex-trafficking venture, allowing Jeffries to accumulate “new victims at an alarming rate.” According to the plaintiffs, the fashion brand turned a blind eye to indications of criminality, prioritizing profit and showing unwavering loyalty to Jeffries.
These allegations cast a shadow over the company’s past practices and raise broader questions about the responsibilities of corporations in preventing and addressing misconduct within their ranks. As the legal battle unfolds, Abercrombie & Fitch faces scrutiny not only for its products but also for its historical association with these disturbing allegations.