He stood at the front bar, amid the confluence of dolled-up women and men in college T-shirts. Above him, the stereo blasted AC/DC. Behind him, people jockeyed for position. Tonight, Moon wore the basic club-scene uniform: tight black shirt, jeans and dress shoes. But he stood out in the barroom line-up. He was tan and muscular. Above his square cheekbones and smooth forehead, his blond hair crested in a perfect wave. Clutching a green bill, Moon looked toward the bartender expectantly.
If he looked familiar, he was: A part-time model with Kansas City-based Talent Unlimited, Moon's path to adulthood had been chronicled in the ads fueling various city rags (including this one) since he was six years old. Currently, he's the perfectly shorn stud promoting laser hair removal on a billboard along I-35 north of the city.
After graduating from Central Missouri State University in December 2002, Moon had moved back to town to look for a full-time job. Prospects were slim, and he had little idea what he wanted to do. On a résumé, he was indistinguishable from the rest of the city's job-seekers: He'd played football in college, made the dean's list and graduated in a little over four years with a degree in business management.
Facing a ruthless market, Moon contacted a few high school friends in Nebraska. One, a manager at Abercrombie & Fitch, suggested he apply to be a manager in training with the clothing chain.
"I was really unsure about it," Moon says. "It was not where I saw myself being after college -- with retail management." Still, he needed money, and the job looked like a good résumé-builder.
In January, Moon walked into the Abercrombie on the Plaza. He'd never worked retail before. Moon expressed interest in the management position and got a formal interview with a district manager. There, he brokered the only thing he couldn't put on a résumé: his looks.
"They didn't hire me on the spot," he says, "but I knew I had the job."
For its employees, Abercrombie pushed what they described as a "natural, raw look" synonymous with sex. The job was like an extension of Moon's nightlife -- he spent his days chatting up customers, everyone from über-hot sorority girls to shopping moms. Across the city, other guys who'd graduated with Moon's major were knotting ties and commuting to entry-level bank jobs. At Abercrombie, the dress code was simple: head-to-toe Abercrombie clothing, a style Moon loved to wear. As winter thawed, Moon wore a red, sleeveless shirt and sandals to work. He made $23,000 a year.
At night, Moon traveled with a two-person entourage. Another manager in training, Ben Matthews, was a charismatic 23-year-old with dark hair and equally good looks. His store manager, Andrea Mandrick, 22, was a knockout petite blonde. Moon and his coworkers hit the Plaza, boozing beneath teardrop-shaped lamps at Kona Grill or mingling with the techno dance crowd in the roped-off VIP lounge downstairs at Mi Cocina.
Their late-night antics blended perfectly with the company philosophy, which was to hire as many good-looking people as possible, give them discounts on clothes and send them out into the world.
"We are the advertisements outside the store," Mandrick says.
The late night scene was an exercise in social Darwinism, the best-looking people attracting others while the marginal-looking became nothing more than an alcoholic blur. At Harpo's Tuesday night, Moon smiled at girls, took a few sips from his plastic beer cup and stopped to shake hands with some guy he recognized. A group of cigarette-wielding girls at a nearby table eyed him like paparazzi.
On weekday mornings, dance music bumped from speakers at Abercrombie & Fitch on the Plaza. A chandelier made of faux deer antlers hung in one room; another, composed of whitewashed moose antlers, cast a glow on red, blue and gray Abercrombie Lacrosse, Abercrombie Athletic Department and Abercrombie Parks and Recreation T-shirts scattered across a long wooden table, flanked by rows of faded jeans and dress shirts crumpled to impart a secondhand look. A black-and-white poster of a topless woman lying on a bed ran the length of the back wall by the cash register, her curvy body rising and falling across the mattress like a panoramic landscape. Other pictures of half-naked men and women adorned adjacent walls. In another room, corduroy and khaki skirts -- their widths greater than their lengths -- postered the wall like college pennants.
The scene was the same at all five Abercrombies across the metro -- at Oak Park Mall, Independence Center, Town Center, on the Plaza and in Lawrence. Each Abercrombie followed one of ten specific store designs, says a former Kansas City district manager. Corporate formula dictated the vibe, from lighting to music to poster placement and the employees' clothes. Operations were detailed right down to how often store mannequins got sprayed with Abercrombie cologne.
"Every store in the U.S.A. has the same picture when you walk in the front door," the former district manager says. This season, shoppers are greeted by a giant head shot of a blond poster boy who bears a not-so-slight resemblance to Moon.
Abercrombie started in 1892 as a top-of-the-line camping and hunting store in downtown New York, billing itself as "The Greatest Sporting Goods Store in the World." By 1917, founder David T. Abercrombie had enlisted former lawyer and longtime customer Ezra Fitch as a business partner, and the store, focusing more on apparel, had grown to fill a twelve-story building in Manhattan. Today, it's a 625-store fashion juggernaut (including 167 Abercrombies for kids and 112 Hollisters, the Abercrombie off-brand targeted at high schoolers); at the end of 2002, the company's annual net sales totaled $1.6 billion.
On a recent Saturday at the Oak Park Abercrombie, teenagers swarm the entrance like voyeurs at a peep show. Three eighth-grade girls stand around a shirtless salesman with textbook pecs and baggy, dark-blue jeans that sag low, revealing V-shaped obliques along his pelvis. A thin saleswoman stands beside him, wearing a low-buttoned man's dress shirt, cuffs unbuttoned, and no pants.
Last Christmas, seeking to jack sales, the company stripped some employees to their skivvies and posted them by store entrances as holiday greeters. The Oak Park Abercrombie, one of the highest-volume outlets in the district, is continuing the trend.
Guys approach the male model, crossing their arms defensively. "It makes me want to work out, like, 75 hours a day, and I can't," says Jake, a Shawnee Mission East graduate. "Most of the time, I don't go to Abercrombie, because it's so stereotypical. There's so many people trying to be models."
"I know parents who don't let their kids shop there because of the whole image kind of thing," says a mother, accompanied by her college-age daughter.
"I think it's very sexy," says one girl's mother after snapping a picture. "He's extremely hot and has the most beautiful eyes. You can see them from Dillard's. If I wasn't married, I'd be an Abercrombie girl myself." The girls grin shyly, their checks and eyelashes coated with heavy makeup. "These girls put the clothes on, and I put a lock and key around their britches and never let them out of the house," the mom jokes.
Across the country, infuriated parents have pointed to the greeter program as one of many immoral stunts pulled by the company in the past decade.
In 1998, A&F Quarterly, the company's catalog, put out a back-to-school issue with a section headlined "Drinking 101," featuring drink recipes and a cutout guide to cocktails. The subject matter drew complaints from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which pointed to high school kids across the nation proudly sporting the Abercrombie logo on the chests.
In 2002, Abercrombie pulled a new clothing line from the shelves after Asian-Americans protested shirts showing grossly caricatured Asian men in conical hats advertising a Chinese take-out service called the "Wok and Go Pizza Dojo" and flaunting the "Wong Brothers Laundry" and its slogan, "Two Wongs can make it white."
The next year in California, the company settled a $2.2 million statewide claim after workers charged unfair employment practices in which they were forced to wear only Abercrombie clothes on the job.
More trouble surfaced this June when nine Asian and Hispanic former employees from California stores filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Abercrombie discriminated on the basis of race and that the company recruited, hired and maintained a disproportionately white sales force.
The suit says that "Abercrombie implements its discriminatory employment policies and practices in part through a detailed and rigorous 'Appearance Policy,' which requires that all representatives must exhibit the 'A&F Look.'" Jahan Sagafi, a lawyer with the San Francisco legal firm Lieff Cabraser, which is handling the suit, says that it wasn't just rogue managers who practiced discrimination. It was institutionalized. "The fact that the company so narrowly focused on looks and what is an attractive look offends a lot of people in a lot of ways," he tells the Pitch.
Since the suit went public, more than 200 current and former workers and managers nationwide have contacted Lieff Cabraser. The suit should be formally recognized in a matter of months, Sagafi says -- with formal notice of the action sent to more than 22,000 current and former employees.
"Everyone's got the same footing," Sagafi says. He won't divulge the numbers, but he says employees from Kansas and Missouri are waiting to sign on.
It took less than a month for Moon to realize that, despite appearances, the store was different from the chill party he'd imagined. At bars, revelers controlled the late-night scene, and the party grew organically according to their actions. At Abercrombie, corporate guidelines ruled, and everyone had an assigned role.
As a manger in training, Moon would arrive at the Plaza store around 8 a.m. He would organize the cash register and drop the bank deposit. But getting there two hours early to count money and straighten shelves seemed ridiculous, so he'd work slowly, turning down shirtsleeves to create perfect rectangles out of red-striped cotton polos, and arranging leather cuffs and seashell bracelets in rows along the display case. He'd pump his own dance music loudly.
Other employees arrived a little before ten; the guys in their burgundy or navy moose-emblem Hoffman Mt. polos and "vintage fatigue" beige cargo shorts, the girls in "vintage lace camis" (white tank tops with gold-lace necklines) and "sabrina flight mini" twill skirts or five-pocket flare jeans. One employee, usually a guy, would stand by the front door to greet customers. At some stores, he carried a football to toss around, establishing his casual jock status. Others workers folded clothes or twirled keys by the fitting rooms.
"It looked like a bunch of fun-loving people," says Molly Bennett, who went to work at the Oak Park store as seasonal help during the Christmas season in 1999. "Some guys wanted to apply because the girls were hot," she says. "Honestly, everyone who worked there was pretty good-looking, so if you got hired, it was like, yeah, I passed some cut somewhere."
The job description was simple: Show up and look good. Employees didn't have to talk to customers unless they orbited within 5 feet of each other. "It doesn't say anything about ignoring people," Mandrick says. "But that's what Abercrombie is famous for."
For some, the Abercrombie Associate's Handbook's rules meant the workday was a silent fashion show:
Hairstyles: For men and women, a neatly combed, attractive, natural hairstyle is acceptable.
Makeup: Makeup must be worn within the guidelines, and must be worn to enhance natural features and create a fresh, natural appearance ... Eyebrow pencil, eye liner and eye shadow are acceptable in natural color. Lipstick should be very natural in color and applied to compliment [sic] the associate's appearance.
Fingernails: Clean, presentable fingernails are a must. Fingernails should not extend more than 1/4 inch beyond the tip of the finger ... Any color of polish other than a natural color is unacceptable and the associate will be asked to remove the polish prior to beginning his or her shift. Toenail polish may be worn in an appropriate color. Associates should ask management what is an appropriate color.
Facial Hair: Facial hair, including mustaches, goatees, and beards, is unacceptable.
Tattoos: Inconspicuous tattoos are acceptable, as long as they represent that Abercrombie look as determined by your manager.
Clothing and footwear: Clothes and footwear should be clean and neat at all times. Choices should reflect body types so that associates look attractive and classic, not provocative (e.g., tanks should be worn with an undergarment) ...
Jewelry: Jewelry must be simple and classic ... No more than two earrings in each ear can be worn at a time for women. Earrings should not be larger than a dime and should not dangle. Earrings can be clip-on or pierced, but must be worn on the bottom of the earlobe. The shape of the earring must be in good taste. Men are not allowed to wear earrings. Toe rings are acceptable ...
Moon stood at the cash register, silhouetted against another naked-woman backdrop. From his post, he could see sweatshirts rolled like sports towels along nearby shelves and racks of weathered pants and T-shirts carefully arranged to look haphazardly placed across the shop floor. Near him, stacks of the movie-themed summer edition of A&F Quarterly faced outward toward waiting customers. The issue contained the usual bold images: a naked girl riding a fake dinosaur; a naked guy dipping into a horse trough; a spread titled "Amanda Needs It Now," which, when read flip-book style, goes from a couple's meeting to an unclothed tumble in the grass, complete with money-shot spray from a garden hose.
At Moon's elbow was a day planner, a folder-sized notebook containing group photos of the staff at selected stores. Each year, managers would pick a handful of sales staffers for the store photo. But not every store in the nation made the planner, he says. The Plaza didn't make it last year; Oak Park Mall did. The staff photos were a daily reminder of aesthetic standards the typical Abercrombian was supposed to meet.
No one face defined Abercrombie & Fitch, but there was a stereotype. Employees understood that the typical Abercrombie guy and girl were athletic, collegiate and party-loving. Their haunts -- the gym, the club, a fraternity or sorority -- were listed on what amounted to an all-points bulletin in a back room at the store.
Seventy percent of all store conversations were about recruiting, Mandrick says. When she was promoted to store manager this March, she learned she was the fourth manager to come through since the previous August. Though there were around fifty employees at the Plaza store, the shop lost two or three part-timers every week. The goal was to have enough employees at the store for each worker to get only a couple of shifts a week, creating a revolving gallery of pretty people.
"That's Abercrombie," Moon says. "We were always hiring."
Written on a dry-erase board near the typical Abercrombie guy and girl poster was a three-point recruitment mantra: "Recruit every day. Have a sense of urgency. Don't be average." Running like a singles ad beneath the mantra were the names and phone numbers of the potential recruits whose colleges, clubs and known activities showed potential. The goal was to get someone who knew a lot of people -- good-looking people usually knew people equally or more attractive. A sorority girl probably had pledge sisters who could fill a few shifts.
Once or twice a week, Abercrombie-clad drones carrying clipboards would descend on local college campuses.
Each metro Abercrombie had a "target school" from which employees were recruited. Former employees say managers at the store in Lawrence wanted nearly 100 percent of their work force to come from the University of Kansas. Independence Center managers tried to recruit 70 percent of their employees from CMSU. "A certain percent were supposed to be Greek, and they even would target specific houses," says a former manager in Columbia. Plaza workers concentrated on Rockhurst, UMKC and William Jewell. The goal was to return with five candidates, three of them male.
Recruiters were deployed in teams of two and three. Plaza workers staked out Rockhurst or the student union at UMKC. Moon and Mandrick handed potential recruits applications in exchange for their phone numbers. With no formal direction on how to recruit, they operated with a loose, pickup-line technique. Moon would spot a good-looking candidate and approach him or her.
"We don't recruit just anybody," he would say. "We just recruit the hottest people. We want you to work with us. It'll be a privilege. It'll be fun."
The offer? Minimum wage and a discount on clothes.
When they were hired, most employees were college-age, working for $5.50 an hour. When they showed up for work, they'd be treated to a five-minute "look video" that Moon describes as a soft-core music video with barely clothed models running around without direction. It was a welcome-to-the-club statement, intended to spike company morale, an ego boost, Moon says. "I think that's the reason people work at Abercrombie. It's not about the money."
But the idea was becoming increasingly difficult to sell.
"[Abercrombie] had kind of a bad reputation for putting the kids in scandalous outfits," Bennett says. As a KU student, Bennett recruited on the Lawrence campus a handful of times in late 2000. On campus, she'd disperse employment fliers to anyone who made eye contact, just to get rid of them.
"I guess it was kind of a joke. You work at Abercrombie, you're in a sorority. I tried to keep that on the down low," she says. "There was definitely a crowd of people who would smirk if they found out you worked there."
"We got made fun of for what we were wearing," Moon says.
Some people would stop and talk with the recruiters; some gave them the cold shoulder. One day in midwinter, Moon and Mandrick sat in the Rockhurst cafeteria, looking for prospects. Mandrick wore a company-issue hot-pink hoodie and Destroyer superflare jeans; Moon had on a light-yellow Abercrombie T-shirt and a pair of his own bleached jeans.
"People knew why we were there," Mandrick says.
A small crowd gathered around the group, and people started yelling at them, making fun of their coordinated style.
"That's the ugliest pair of jeans I've ever seen," Mandrick remembers one guy saying to Moon.
"For some reason, they saw us there with Abercrombie and felt intimidated or jealous," Moon says. After less than half an hour, heckling and laughter drove the recruiters off campus. Each mission should have lasted two hours, but leaving early was their trend.
In the metro, recruiters say they had no rapport with the college community. They were seen as outsiders, operating without the school's endorsement. "People gave us stares," Moon says. "They'd ask what we were doing there. I'd be the same way. Kids who are in college want real recruiters to come, not managers from Abercrombie with an offer for minimum-wage help."
Clothing Rule No. 1: What's fashionable in winter is shed by spring. The idea applied to Abercrombie's fashions as well as to workers who got out of shape, thus shortening their shelf life at the store.
Mandrick was promoted to manager in March. She listened in on a conference call in which a district manager talked about a walking tour of other retailers at Town Center Plaza, noting the merely average-looking sales staffs at J. Crew and Express -- workers who couldn't make sales at Abercrombie. In May, she says, her district manager took her 45-person scheduling sheet and began crossing off names of subpar employees.
"Everyone needs to be these people or better," the DM told her, referring to the employees who remained on the list.
Scanning the list, Mandrick counted the names of people who met her district manager's standards. There were four.
"We were always recruiting off the floor, always," Moon says. "That was your job. Make sure you got some quality candidates and invite them to group interview."
As he rang up customers, Moon checked them out. If he saw someone who fit the company image, he'd ask him or her to apply.
"Being a manager, I had a firsthand account," Moon says. "We were told we had to be hot to work there. If I walked in and saw some hot girl, I'd be like, 'Dude, you're hired now, come in on Sunday for orientation.' If you were really hot and dumb as a rock, we'd hire you and put you at the front door to greet people."
Once a week, all the potential new employees, usually between five and fifteen people, would arrive at a store to be questioned together. The interrogation was basically a joke, covering a range of topics such as "What kind of music do you like? What's your favorite CD? What's in your CD player right now?" and "If you could be a superhero, who would it be and why?" Questions were open-ended to keep applicants talking, but no one really listened to the answers.
"[Managers] would tell them to come to a group interview to see how people interact with each other, but [they were really trying] to compare who's more attractive than the other," says one former employee at the Independence Center Abercrombie.
"Say I see a girl I thought was cute, but questionable," Moon says. "I invite her to a group interview, so it's not on you if they are hired. If I, as a manager, were to hire someone not company standard, not hot, not good-looking enough, I would catch major heat from a district manager to the point of 'What'd you hire them for? Don't put them on the schedule.'"
Bennett remembers a summer day at the cash register when a substandard girl came in to fill out an application. The manager told her there were no openings but took her application to file. When she left, Bennett says, he threw it in the trash. A few minutes later, a better-looking girl asked about employment. Without a formal application or interview, the manager hired her on the spot.
According to federal law, all employment applications must be kept on file for a year. At the Plaza Abercrombie, applications were stored in a two-drawer cabinet in the back room. Workers filed applications in the top drawer if a prospect was good-looking, the bottom drawer if they were not.
There was always an attempt to put "the most attractive foot forward," Moon says. On corporate "blitz" days -- days when district managers came to check up on local stores -- some managers would call their relatively mundane employees, give them the day off and call in a shift of hotties. "Any questionable people, [we'd] tell not to show up," Moon says.
Despite the California ruling overturning a mandate to wear all Abercrombie attire, every employee was pressured to wear the store's clothing. Corporate-backed peer pressure dictated that males sport tighter shirts, that female workers go a size smaller, pull up their shirts and push down their pants a bit. "Everything seemed regulated, right down to your pants size," says the former Independence Center employee. Workers who didn't wear the new season lineup were warned to dress accordingly and eventually sent home. "You don't wear the clothes, you don't get the hours," says the former Kansas City district manager.
At Oak Park, Bennett started each day by folding clothes and wandering around until a manager found her, then she'd clean dressing rooms or work the cash register. At 5-feet-8-inches tall and 115 pounds, she'd always been attractive, but each four-hour shift brought a new wave of self-consciousness. Each paycheck went to buy Abercrombie clothing so she could stay current with the floor styles.
The anti-beautiful bias sometimes deteriorated to playground antics.
At the Plaza, Mandrick says, managers told her to keep a skinny cross-country runner busy in the stock room. During a districtwide conference call, higher-ups told her that her daily sales were suffering because she had "Brace Face," a saleswoman who wore braces, working the floor. She'd turn in a weekly schedule to her district manager and have it returned to her with lines through the names of employees who didn't make the cut.
"When [the employees] first got there, they'd want to know why they weren't on the schedule," Mandrick says. "I couldn't tell them, 'It's because the district manager doesn't think you're pretty enough.'" So Mandrick sliced some coworkers' hours down to nothing, not exactly firing them but not putting them on the schedule.
"It was such a huge letdown, such a huge disappointment," she says. "It's like they teach you to discriminate against ugly people, average people."
Workers with the best biceps and shapeliest legs got the hours, regardless of their job performance.
Moon doesn't remember how many minorities applied at the Plaza. "It was a lot," he says. "A lot." Before the lawsuit, the only minority employee at the store was a Wizards soccer player.
"If they came in and were African-American, if they weren't wearing the Abercrombie look just to apply, it went straight to the 'no' file," he says. Another former manager who worked in St. Louis and Columbia says she was told not to hire "ghetto" workers.
Abercrombie & Fitch's director of communications, Tom Lennox, declined numerous requests from the Pitch to comment on the pending class-action lawsuit. In a prepared statement issued after the filing, however, Lennox said, "The allegations in the lawsuit that has been filed against Abercrombie & Fitch in San Francisco are baseless and without merit.
"Abercrombie & Fitch associates represent American style," the statement continued. "America is diverse, and we want diversity in our stores. We do not discriminate. Our policy is to have zero tolerance for discrimination in hiring or employment on the basis of race, national origin, ancestry, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, medical condition, marital status or any characteristic protected by state or federal law."
Later, Lennox explained to The New York Times that the company sought to hire employees who "look great while exhibiting individuality, project the brand and themselves with energy and enthusiasm, and make the store a warm, inviting place that provides a social experience for the customer."
But Moon says there's an appearance hierarchy at the store. "They take advantage of you. You make them look good," Moon says. "When I say them, I mean the DM, the GMs, the VPs, the people who run the show."
Having modeled for most of his life, Moon was used to being a company front man. But at Abercrombie, he was repping an institution he no longer believed in. That made him uncomfortable. Like the image, he carried that feeling with him when he left the store.
On Sundays, Moon sat with the congregation at Pleasant Baptist Church in Liberty, praying no one would ask about his job. The pews were stocked with rows of folks who had known Moon since he was a kid, who'd seen him grow to become increasingly self-confident, who had high expectations for his future. Moon was the perfect salesman: He had good posture, a firm handshake, a camera-ready smile and a straight-talking, almost adolescent voice. He was embarrassed by his employer's reputation.
At the beginning of the summer, he gave his two-weeks' notice. "I didn't agree with what Abercrombie stood for, from everything from recruiting to advertising to quarterlies to posters, that kind of stuff," Moon says. "I almost lose respect for people who work there now. That's my message: You guys are better than that.
"It's just a matter of time," Moon continues. "That's all it is. The only thing that changed my opinion from positive to negative, from the beginning to the end, was time. The more you're there, the more you grow to hate it."
It's Tuesday afternoon at Kona Grill, a trendy bar and restaurant at the south end of the Plaza. There are no beer signs in the front windows. The paneled glass swings open, revealing patrons clustered around high wooden bar tables and enjoying the summer breeze. The sushi lunch special here draws fine-threaded business people who expect good service. Customers are packed elbow-to-elbow at the bar.
Moon knows how busy the place can get. His uniform is a black T-shirt and black pants with dress shoes and an apron. He moves fluidly through the room, setting utensils along tables, clearing dishes, refilling iced tea.
He stops to talk with a fake blonde in a powder-blue top seated at the front bar. Together they gaze upward at a flat screen showing a synchronized-swimming competition on ESPN. Moon says something to her. She throws her head back and laughs as he sets off again into the room.
A few weeks ago, an Abercrombie girl walked into Kona and took down the bartender's name. He told her he had no intention of working at the store, Moon says, but it didn't matter. She needed the name of a potential recruit to bring back and write on the dry-erase board.
Companywide, Abercrombie has an estimated 1,600 managers nationally, according to the former Kansas City district manager. In 2002, more than 200 managers in training left, Mandrick says. Plaza retailers, including J. Crew, Guess Inc. and Anthropologie, boast rosters studded with former Abercrombie employees. One ex-Abercrombie girl says she still gets solicited to apply for a job when she shops at Abercrombie.
Moon's been working double shifts, trying to save money. Once again facing a fierce job market with few prospects, he has decided to enroll in law school at UMKC.
At the end of his shift, Moon sits in a back booth, rolling silverware. Ben Matthews enters the restaurant wearing a tight-fitting burgundy polo with an "A&F" logo stitched across the left pec.
There's a corporate blitz today, Matthews says. Moon nods knowingly. As a manager, it was Moon who recruited the manager in training to work at the Plaza store.
Matthews was promoted to assistant manager the day after Moon quit. He interviewed for a regional recruiting position for the company in Chicago a few months ago, but he turned down the job offer. His status with the company is unsure.
Two weeks later, tired of feeling like a human mannequin, like an expendable commodity, and unwilling to shoulder the responsibility of duping more kids into selling a bullshit dream, Matthews will quit Abercrombie, too. (Like Moon, he'll get a job at Kona.) Mandrick will leave, too, and make plans to go back to college. Their departure will be followed by a flurry of late-night drunk dials from supportive coworkers, all of them vowing never to return to the store.
On Saturday nights, Moon and Matthews troll amid the glitterati around the oversized granite bar at Mi Cocina. They still stand out. At Kona, ensconced in a fog of secondhand smoke, both smell unmistakably of Abercrombie & Fitch cologne.
"We look alike," Moon says. "You've seen us before in the club. We're not acting there. We love to be around people like ourselves, who wear the same kind of style, who aren't jealous, who aren't insecure of other guys and who bring hot girls. It's nice to have good-looking people hanging around you. That's not a shallow comment. It's just the facts of life."