“You’re Beautiful; You’re Hired!”

[This article was first published on 4th August 2009, on http://life.hereisthecity.com/get_cultured/entertainment/culture/1031.cntns ]
This morning I stumbled upon the real-life set of The O.C. nestled in the deepest recesses of shopping mecca, aka The West End. Or so it appeared.

British accents aside though, this barrage of beautiful people could believably have been shuttled in from Orange County, ‘where all the beautiful people live’ (apparently). So, where is this stomping ground overflowing with young replicas of Adonis and nubile Venuses, I hear you ask?
It is none other than the infamous Abercrombie & Fitch store, affectionately known to some as Abercrombie & Filth. Having only ever frequented its older sibling stores in the US, the hype over this flagship London store’s widely reported ‘Look Policy’ (i.e. only employing visually pleasing sales staff) and bare-chested male models greeting shoppers at the door, I put down to just that. Hype.
But I can now assure you that there is fact behind the fiction (with the exception of the bare chest myth, though it was a rainy morning and a touch chilly). The HR department seems to have raided the local modelling agency for out of work models looking to fill some downtime. It certainly solves the mystery over the permanent snaking queue of customers at its door, in the style of nightclub entry beyond the velvet rope. Indeed, bar the beer goggles and entrance fee, the experience is not dissimilar: darkened corridors, strategically dimmed spot lighting, club music with a heavy bias to the bass, and a surplus of young people.
It made me wonder: do beautiful people make better sales people? And if so, what sort of uproar would be wreaked if investment banks implemented a similar ‘Look Policy’ in their job spec when doling out sales roles? I daresay placing an equities/FX/derivative order is not too different from buying a T shirt/sweater/shorts – the choice is abundant, sizes vary and there’s always (usually) an option to return or exchange.

The only notable difference is that a portfolio manager can’t ask his sales person to try on his trade and parade around in it before buying.


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