Abercrombie & Fitch to tone down "sexualized" images

Abercrombie & Fitch to tone down "sexualized" images (Image 1)
Abercrombie & Fitch to tone down "sexualized" images (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

(NBC) -Say goodbye to the scantily clad "models" and suggestive marketing that have become synonymous with Abercrombie & Fitch.

On Thursday, the company sent out a memo to regional and district managers regarding store policy changes at its namesake and Hollister stores. The moves include no longer hiring store associates based on body type or physical attractiveness, and changing store associate titles from "model" to "brand representative."

The brands' presidents also said that by the end of July, there will no longer be "sexualized" images printed on shopping bags, gift cards or other marketing materials. Both brands will also discontinue the use of shirtless models at store openings and events.

The teen retailer's changes come as the presidents, Abercrombie's Christos Angelides and Hollister's Fran Horowitz, try to turn around the company's image in the post-Mike Jeffries era.

The 70-year-old former CEO, whose two-decade tenure at the company's helm ended in December, was often criticized for leading Abercrombie down a path that preached noninclusion. In 2013, consumers protested the label and targeted Jeffries in a Change.org petition, after comments he made in a 2006 interview were republished.

In that interview, Jeffries told Salon, "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids."

"Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

The company landed in hot water again when it denied employment to a Muslim job applicant because her religious attire went against its dress code, which prohibited employees from wearing headwear. That case was argued in front of the Supreme Court in February, but a decision hasn't yet been handed down.

In the store policy guidelines issued Thursday, Abercrombie and Hollister outlined that "other than pursuant to an approved accommodation," store employees should not wear headwear.