Yesterday, I posted on Facebook a link to an article about the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries. Apparently he doesn’t like “fat chicks” and he doesn’t want them wearing A&F’s clothes.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told [Salon]. “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.”
Here’s the thing, I don’t believe that all stores can be all things to all people. I don’t really have a problem with stores offering clothes only up to a size 16 or 18. There are plus-size stores that make great clothing for us larger ladies (and big & tall spots for men). I will say that I think it’s a poor business decision, because you’re excluding a segment of the population who’d be willing to spend their dollars on your product. But A&F’s women’s sizes stop at a size 10. A 10. Really? So every woman over a size 10 isn’t “cool” enough to shop there? They’re too fat? And Jeffries claims it’s OK to offer men’s sizes up to XXL because they want to attract “large athletes.” Hm. ‘Cause I’m sure every male who shops at A&F and buys an XXL is a weight-lifting, lacrosse playing chick magnet, as pictured in their oh-so-subtle ads that are, as my cousin said on Facebook, disgustingly supposed to appeal to teenagers (!).
Soft porn, anyone?
What bothers me the most about Jeffries’ attitude is this “us” vs. “them” mentality. As if the people who shop at A&F are so much cooler, so much more good-looking, than those of us who can’t or don’t. I’m sure lots of clothing companies want to project this image of “you’ll be so much more popular if you wear our clothes.” I can actually get that as a marketing technique, in some respects. But for the CEO to actually preach that as the motto of their company, to implement it in such a way that they only seek out good-looking employees, and they’re proud of it, is so demeaning, so … snobby.
As a plus-size woman, I actually hate going to the mall, at times, because there are so few stores for me to shop at. Walking into a store where they only carry up to a certain size can be embarrassing, when shopping with friends. Especially as a teenager. A friend on Facebook said she was always thankful that The Gap carried up to a size 16 or so because she could shop there like anyone else. I always feel the same way when, say, I go into H&M or even the Forever 21 stores that carry plus sizes in-store. Shopping, in my eyes, should be about community, about having fun, not about making some people feel that they’re not good enough, that they’re not “cool.”
The issue at hand is, it’s this guy’s definition of “cool.”
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries
Who’s he to say what’s cool? Am I not cool because I can’t wear his company’s clothes? Which, by the way, often look like shrunken ripoffs of Tommy Hilfiger’s clothes, anyway.
Well, if that means I’m not cool, then that’s fine by me. I’d rather give my dollars to a company who has a wider sense of who they want to appeal to, and who they accept.