The Abercrombie and Fitch Debate

Thanks to this article from Business Insider, Abercrombie and Fitch is back in the media again.

The Story

For those of you who don’t know, the article discusses how Abercrombie and Fitch does not stock clothes for plus sized women. Sorry ladies. If you wear an XL or greater or are over a size 10 in pants, you apparently aren’t welcome there. However, if you’re a bigger guy, you are more than welcome. You can get up to an XXL shirt and  XL pants too. 

The Business Insider article cites statements made by CEO Mike Jeffries in a 2006 interview in Salon. Jeffries provided the interviewer with a variety of insightful gems.

For example, when asked about how important sex and physical attraction were to his brand, Jeffries said “It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

Is this a clothing advertisement or softcore porn?

Jeffries also told Salon that he had no qualms about Abercrombie and Fitch being exclusionary. He tells the interviewer “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Jeffries released a statement to the Los Angeles today. While he didn’t apologize, he did say that he regrets that  his “choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense.” Jeffries went on to say that his “7-year-old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context,” but reiterated his company  “targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers.” You know, those all american cool kids he was talking about back in 2006. For good measure, Jeffries added that Abercrombie and Fitch is  “completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics.” 

The Debate

Although they may seem far and few, there are people who agree with Jeffries on this matter. It’s his company and his opinion. Even it’s an unpopular viewpoint, he can do and say what he wants in regard to his company and personal views. 

And that’s fine. I don’t really have a problem with that. 

Garey Busey? Oh no, it’s just Mike Jeffries.

However, I DO have a problem with a 68-year-old man with a busted face having a shitty elitist attitude. Who is he to tell someone they’re unattractive, unpopular and undesirable when he looks like a cross between Joan Rivers and Gary Busey? You would expect this kind of small-minded, exclusionary, I’m-better-than-you attitude from high school kids and people in their early twenties. You wouldn’t expect it from a grown man.

It’s an unspoken truth that the media and other industries cater to those who are considered skinny. The media and other industries want us to believe that’s the norm, that’s beauty, and that’s what we should strive to obtain. However, more and more companies and industries are starting to realize that the type of models they feature are not a reflection of today’s average person and are starting to lose business. They have to change. They have to adapt. 

When Jeffries says he doesn’t mind being exclusionary, he’s also saying he doesn’t mind missing out on potential business. Jeffries is also saying that he doesn’t care about existing customers. They are going to get older. Their waistlines are going to expand. Unfortunately, once they reach the sizes beyond those mentioned previously, they will no longer be able to purchase clothes from Abercrombie. So much for customer loyalty. 

The writer of the Salon article had every right to say Jeffries is a modern-day Willy Wonka figure. It’s not just because of Jeffries’s eccentric behavior. It’s also because he never seemed to grow up. 

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