Former Anthropologie Employees Accuse The Store Of Having ‘Code Words’ To Identify And Track Black Shoppers
The fashion industry has long faced accusations of racism and discriminatory practices. Retail is no different. And now, one popular retailer is facing the consequences of racist policies that victimized Black shoppers.
Earlier this week, Diet Prada, an Instagram account known for calling out bad or discriminatory practices within the fashion industry, reported that multiple employees from stores across the U.S. and Canada said they were told to watch Black shoppers and that the codename “Nick” was used.
Anthropologie is the latest fashion retailer facing allegations of racial discrimination.
Anthropologie was one of countless brands to share Black Lives Matter posts at the beginning of June — in solidarity with the growing movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. However, the iconic retailer was also one of several to get called out for hypocrisy in the comments, with both current and former employees revealing the nickname given to Black customers for the purpose of racial profiling.
From Free People to Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, several retailers have missed the mark when it comes to actually showing that they care.
Across social media, previous employees have come forward to accuse the brand of racial profiling, using a code name for shoppers, and lacking diversity in hiring.
Those who worked at stores across several US states and Canada confirmed that they were told to watch people of color closely, and would refer to them as ‘Nicks’ to other employees
“Anthro’s culture needs to be seriously reformed,” wrote one user, who said the brand’s company culture was a systemic issue. “The ‘Nick’ codeword for Black shoppers that has been corroborated by unrelated former employees? Come on.”
But allegations of racist practices and “whitewashing” continued, with people accusing Anthropologie of culturally appropriating products and predominantly hiring white employees.
Another day, another boho Karen retailer showing their true shades of beige,’ the account wrote.
One of the most damning comments came from @flleurdeblooms, who wrote: ‘How are you going to stop racially profiling your “Nicks”? I worked at Anthropologie and the racial profiling was sickening. So many times the management told us to watch people of color over the headsets and I refused to follow around most black people who were just minding their own damn business and respectfully shopping. Please change.’
Customers have also come forward to corroborate the instances of racism they experienced inside Anthropologie stores.
For many Black shoppers, the now viral comments only confirmed what they had experienced as a shopper for years.
One customer wrote: “I’ve been followed in your stores before. The last straw was 4/2/2019 – that was my birthday. I couldn’t reconcile giving my money to an employee who never greeted me yet followed me on my birthday. I haven’t been back since.’
More commenters replied to say that they, too, had similar experiences.
‘I was followed by one of your sales associates in your Harbor East Baltimore store fro no reason,’ said one. ‘The sales associate told me that her managers told her to do so!’
Anthropologie has issued an official response on Instagram to allegations of racial discrimination.
Anthropologie and their parent company Urban Outfitters denied their former employees claims despite accusations coming out of California, Chicago, Seattle, NYC, and their Canada stores. However, the brand made a statement promising to “continue to educate our teams in pursuit of a culture said better values and respects this diversity” with anti-discrimination training.
“You may have seen that we have been challenged to be more transparent, unbiased, and fair in our stores and with our business practices,” the statement began. It went on to say the company didn’t have a code word and had a zero-tolerance policy for racial profiling but was learning how to combat racism. “We are committed to doing better — to be being better,” it said.
Previously, the brand responded to the controversy with a post promising to stand with and support the Black community, including donating $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund and a commitment to diversifying its workforce.
All of this came after a rather vague and uncommitted response to the #BLM movement. On June 1st, the brand published a Maya Angelou quote to its Instagram feed and stressed that people were “equal in value no matter their color,” but followers expressed unhappiness for what they deemed a vague response that didn’t specifically address the Black Lives Matter movement.
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