Hollister is owned by Abercrombie & Fitch, and now they’re being accused of discrimination too!
(If you didn’t catch it last week, Abercrombie came under fire after its CEO basically said he doesn’t want overweight people shopping there and explained that’s why they don’t carry larger sizes. “Lame” isn’t even the word. “Douchetastic” might be.)
Now Hollister is getting some side eye because they’re being accused of discriminating against the disabled. However, the problems don’t lie with a jerk CEO talking smack, but with the way the shops are laid out. People in wheelchairs have issues getting up and down the steps of the stores, most of which are either raised or recessed. Additionally, the layout inside the stores is often too cluttered for people with wheelchairs to get around easily.
I wanted to give Hollister the benefit of the doubt, because while my butt is too big for me to fit into most of their clothes well, I don’t mind walking past it because it smells good and their music is usually less obnoxious than Abercrombie’s. So when I first heard about this, I thought, “Oh, maybe they just don’t know there’s a problem.” But it turns out, they do.
A lot of disability advocates and equal rights groups have brought the issue up to Hollister, but they won’t budge on it because they want their shops to feel like you’re walking into a beach house . . . even though you’re actually walking into a store in the mall.
The store also pointed out that they do have wheelchair accessible doors. Problem is, those “doors” are often disguised as shuttered windows on the “beach house” they’re trying to create, and they’re often blocked with tables and merchandise on the inside. Not nice!
Right now, Hollister is appealing a judge’s ruling–the judge said they actually went so far as to violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, which has been in place since the 90s to ensure stuff like this doesn’t happen.
The problem with Hollister and also with Abercrombie, its parent company, is that they’re trying to sell a lifestyle and not clothes–and they say so themselves: “It’s all about hot lifeguards and beautiful beaches . . . Young and fun, with a sense of humor, Hollister never takes itself too seriously. Hollister’s laid-back lifestyle and All-American image is timeless and effortlessly cool.”
Here’s the thing. Instead of appreciating the business they’re getting–or could get–from people with disabilities, they just drive the point home that in the Hollister world, they don’t belong. And let’s be honest: there’s nothing too American about making life harder for the underdog.
Do you think Hollister is deliberately discriminating against people with disabilities? Would you shop at Hollister if they were deliberately discriminatory against the disabled? Does this story make you want to avoid Hollister? Tell us in the comments!