"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." Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries (2006)
These comments recently resurfaced, and CEO Mike Jeffries makes no apologies. He only heaped on more abuse by indicating A & F clothing wasn’t for fat people. With pride, he points to the A & F fiscal bottom line—it’s profitable at a time many clothing retailers are struggling to make it through the Great Recession.
At least we know the merchandizing and marketing strategy behind Abercrombie & Fitch. If you happen to be larger than a size ten (like I was in high school) don’t bother coming through their doors. It’s a perfect setup for some of those habitually haughty teens. For others who don’t make the A & F cool scale, you’ll get fresh reminders every time those cool classmates strut their A & F fashions at school.
This is fashion profiling at its worst. Jeffries insists that trying to serve the masses is boring. Let other retailers be “vanilla”. For Jeffries, it’s all about focusing on those who can best model the A & F brand.
Oh, for the love of all that expendable teen and tween cash—not to mention that youthful gullibility and vulnerability. Abercrombie is proud of their girls’ clothing line that baits young buyers with styles more fitting for a brothel. What ten-year-old girl needs to be wearing a thong and a padded bra? Once again, sex sells—even before puberty.
Despite discriminating against a large segment of youthful clientele, A & F is amazingly successful. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that a generation so concerned about tolerance is allowing a willful case of intolerance—against their own generation.
Older Americans can swoop in and browbeat A & F. But this is an excellent opportunity for the Millennial Generation to begin fighting their own battles. An ambitious eighteen year old, Benjamin O’Keefe, is doing exactly that. He’s crafted a petition against A & F that has already garnered over 8000 signatures. It’s a start. Change will only happen if it begins within the demographic A & F is marketing. Someday sex won’t be for sale. But until then, we need to assist young adults like Benjamin, who is choosing to fight for the un-cool.