Oct. 19, 2012 at 1:11 PM ET
The jet-setting eccentricities of Michael Jeffries have been laid bare in a discrimination lawsuit filing, exposing the Abercrombie & Fitch Co. CEO’s exacting dress code for the flight attendant-slash-models that accompanied him on his Gulfstream jet.
The idea that flight attendants have to have a certain, attractive “look” seems as outdated as go-go boots, but Jeffries — who turned Abercrombie into a hot teen brand by sexing up the image of the all-American jock — had 40-plus pages of rules flight attendants were expected to follow. That's according to court documents filed in August in the Eastern District U.S. Court in Philadelphia by 55-year-old private jet pilot Michael Stephen Bustin, who filed suit in 2010 claiming he was fired because of his age.
The flight standards manual stipulated an incongruously strict uniform of jeans worn "at the hip," polo shirts and flip-flops. Sweatshirts could be worn, but only if the staff all coordinated their wardrobes.
A winter coat was required if the temperature fell below 50 degrees. The collar had to be turned up and the bottom button left unbuttoned. Hats were mandated when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees, with the brim folded two inches. Regardless of the weather, flip-flops had to be worn while flying and greeting passengers. Also mandatory for male attendants: boxer briefs and Abercrombie cologne "spritzed" over their uniforms
The court filings detail other offbeat demands of the CEO: Jeffries’ three dogs had specific in-flight seat assignments and requests had to be acknowledged with the phrase, “No problem." One part of the instructions on how to prepare and present Abercrombie sales reports included the directive, "Bring Michael's lucky wallet to him."
The company declined to comment.
Before the recession, Abercrombie & Fitch was known for its high-flying numbers, but the teen apparel retailer has hit turbulence as lower-priced brands like American Eagle Outfitters muscled in on its turf.
“The second quarter results we are reporting today are disappointing and below our expectations coming into the quarter,” Jeffries told investors on Abercrombie’s third-quarter earnings call in August, when the company reported that same-store sales fell 10 percent year-over-year.
Tip of the hat to Bloomberg, which reported on the lawsuit earlier.