I’m sure at some point or another we have all been in a mall where an Abercrombie& Fitch store is located; they bombard our senses with the overwhelming scent of the axe-like substance they spray and the greeter gods they have located just inside the door, all to attract customers.
It’s a brand that as young people some of us dreamed of owning so that we could be like the popular kids who seemed to sport either that or a Hollister or American Eagle logo on their shirt on a daily basis.
It seemed like a pattern that the people who weren’t really cool just didn’t wear those brands; we either couldn’t afford it, or our parents didn’t see the point in spending 25 dollars on a t-shirt. I can tell you now that I am glad I don’t have anything that supports this company.
Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie& Fitch, has been making headlines recently, but not for what a high powered fashion executive would want to be in the news for. Like I said before, it was really only the cool kids in my high school or elementary school who got to wear anything from the pricy store.
It wasn’t just the uncool kids who didn’t wear the stuff, people who were slightly overweight couldn’t wear it either. And it seems that is the way that Mike Jeffries likes it:
“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,” he said.
Jeffries’ company, while not the only store who markets to the seemingly cool crowd, seems to be the only one that prides itself on being purposefully exclusionary, and adhering quite strictly to vanity sizing, even going so far as to not include anything above a large for his women’s clothing.
Men’s sizes may go up to an XXL, but he does not want any women over a size 10 (and that’s a generous term) shopping in his stores.
Anyone who is less than physically perfect, or is not the image of “whiteness” according to Jeffries, are not welcome in his store. In 2009, a former employee with a prosthetic arm filed a lawsuit claiming that the manager forced her to work in the back room because she did not fit the image standards.
The same went for Hispanic, Black, and Asian employees in 2004, who filed a lawsuit against the company.
The company had to bring in diversity recruiters and make the advertisements and catalogues more culturally diverse.
Abercrombie& Fitch even went so far as to start selling thongs for little girls with things such as “wink wink” and “eye candy” printed on them a few years back. This of course came after they decided to show young girls wearing little clothing in sexually aggressive poses in advertisements.
And what did Mike Jeffries do? He criticized the people who were complaining about these new products and advertisements, basically calling them a bunch of prudes who, if they don’t want their kids being over-sexualized, shouldn’t let their kids hang out with “old pervs;” to top it off, he called these thongs “cute.”
I can almost guarantee that if that man had a daughter, he wouldn’t be taking the same approach to the problem.
Abercrombie is one of those brands that have been around for a long time. Sure, every company has it’s little quirks that makes them unique, and those same quirks may even get them into trouble, but at this point I think that Abercrombie has gone so far past the point of acceptable slip ups that the best thing to do would either be to close down their stores or do a total rebranding of the company’s image and product catalogue.
I’d even go so far as to say that they need to find a way of ousting Mike Jeffries, but that will never happen. He’s turning a formerly beloved brand into this monstrosity of a thing that is sparking more outrage than business.
It’s time for Abercrombie to shut its doors and take some time to think about what it (or its CEO) has done.