Eclectic fashion and home goods retailer Anthropologie has issued a statement after several reports that the brand encouraged racial profiling surfaced online.
According to a post from Diet Prada, which in recent weeks has been a leading source in exposing racism within the fashion industry, Anthropologie employees were instructed to call black customers “Nicks” or “Nicky.”
Allegations against the brand first appeared under a post to Anthropologie’s Instagram account. The brand shared a photo of a quote by Maya Angelou which the brand called a call for “equality and equity.”
“Comments from multiple employees confirm that stores in California, Chicago, Seattle, NYC and Canada use the code name ‘Nick’ to refer to Black shoppers,” Diet Prada wrote in a separate Instagram post. “Associates report being told to watch Black shoppers, and Black shoppers also commented confirming having been followed while shopping in their stores.”
Diet Prada accompanied their post with screenshots from former employees detailing their experiences of witnessing racial profiling while they were employed by the brand.
“How are you going to stop racially profiling your ‘Nickys? I worked at Anthropologie and the racial profiling was sickening,” one former employee wrote to Anthropologie. “So many times the management told us to watch people of colour over the headsets and I refused to follow around mostly black people who were minding their own damn business and respectfully shopping. Please change.”’
Other quotes echoed the instruction of being told to refer to Black customers as “Nicks” despite working at different locations.
“I thought Chicago was the only ones who used ‘Nick’ as a form of saying ‘watch that black woman who just walked in.’ F—king shame,” a man commented. “So happy to not work there anymore.”
Aside from comments by former employees, the brand received accounts from customers who claim to have been followed while shopping in Anthropologie as well as the company’s affiliate brands, Free People and Urban Outfitters.
“I was followed by one of your sales associates in your Harbor East Baltimore store for no reason,” one person wrote. “The sales associate told me that her managers told her to do so! You are part of the problem.”
On Thursday, Anthropologie issued a statement to social media, denying any claims of employees being instructed to racial profiling customers.
“We have never and will never have a code word based on a customer’s race or ethnicity,” the statement began. “Our company has a zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination or racial profiling in any form. Employees who do not adhere to this policy are subject to disciplinary action which may include termination.”