This doesn’t look good on the Fab Five — or on Old Navy, for that matter.
“Queer Eye” — Netflix’s feel-good “more than a makeover” show that preaches self-love and acceptance — filmed an upcoming episode in a Philadelphia Old Navy store last week. But some workers say that they didn’t feel very accepted. In fact, employees of color claim that they were kept off-camera, despite having spent the week before preparing the store for the shoot, while several white workers from nearby suburban Old Navy outlets were reportedly brought in for the taping instead.
Monae Alvarado first posted the allegations against the 1618 Chestnut St. store on Facebook on Aug. 21. She said that the store’s staff are mostly people of color, and that many of them pulled an overnight shift to make the shop camera-ready. But come taping day, she said that white workers from other stores were brought in to work the sales floor.
“They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store. The shade I tell you,” she wrote. Her post has drawn 200 comments and more than 2,000 shares.
She also told Philadelphia Magazine: “I was told to go to the back of the store by [Old Navy managers] involved with the production. About six of my fellow co-workers were there, and we were shooed away from the camera as they filmed with these outside employees.”
Another worker of color from that store, who asked not to be named, told the magazine: “We were under the impression from our managers that we would be filmed and to remain professional. I was super-excited up until the day of and a random group of white folks came in to replace us at our own store.”
And a third employee added: “I felt the racism the moment I was being told by managers to go to sections of the store that I usually don’t work around.”
Many viewers and customers have begun calling out both the Netflix series and the store on social media, with some floating the hashtag #BoycottOldNavy. Many people questioned whether it was Old Navy or the “Queer Eye” producers who made the call to bring in the other work crew.
A Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -0.12% spokesperson told MarketWatch by email that “‘Queer Eye’s’ hosts, producers and crew had no knowledge or influence on Old Navy’s staffing choices while filming in a Philadelphia-based store this past week. While filming, production featured one female employee, an African-American manager, who completed an on-camera styling consultation and also served as a point of contact for our crew.”
A spokesperson for Old Navy, a unit of Gap Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201996496/delayed DE:GAP +2.40% , sent MarketWatch the following statement: “We celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging. We were proud to work with the ‘Queer Eye’ show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera. We also worked with additional employees in the area to help ensure the store ran seamlessly for customers, as the location was open for business during filming, and we expect they may appear in background shots. These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population. We would never select employees to participate — or not — based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company.”
Tan France — the fashion and style expert among “Queer Eye’s” five cast members — was on the shoot that day. He commented on Alvarado’s Facebook post: “I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight, but what I can tell you is that there [is] no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC [people of color] to the back. I should also mention that I had one person join me on camera, from Old Navy. She was African American. This is the last I will say on this matter.”
This is the second time “Queer Eye” has been caught in a bad light of late. Cast member Karamo Brown recently caught heat for sticking up for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Both men have been cast on the upcoming season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” and Brown defended the backlash about Spicer by telling “Access Hollywood” that, “I’m a big believer that if you can talk to someone and meet in the middle, you can learn about each other and help each other both grow … He’s a good guy, really sweet guy.” The blowback from that got so bad that Brown appears to have deleted his Twitter account and disabled comments on his Instagram page.