on May 8, 2013 - 5:40pm
By now many of you have read the recently resurfaced excerpts from a 2006 interview where Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jefferies states that he does not want fat, uncool or unpopular people wearing the brand or even being seen in the stores. This issue, regarding Jefferies ugly marketing strategy, was brought to light by Robin Lewis, author of "The New Rules of Retail," who confirmed it is meant to exclude "fat chicks".
Here's a direct quote from Jefferies. "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he told Salon.com. "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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either."
Why would a CEO fat shame people and relate overweight to being uncool?
Firstly, have you seen this guy (above)? Seriously just search for his up close and personal pictures on the internet. He looks like he's had one too many plastic surgeries and is caught in a perma-teen time warp with his wardrobe choices (for the record he is 68). I'm purely speculating, but the man looks to be fairly tall and has a strong frame. I really doubt he can comfortably where a size large polo, oh wait most of the Men's clothing goes up to XXL for the jocks and athletes. The retailer does not carry anything above a size ten in women's bottoms and a large for tops.
Could this be a missed opportunity for the teen retailer? A&F's two biggest competitors American Eagle and H&M sell plus size fashions, American Eagle's sizing goes up to 18 for women while H&M goes up to 24. Not to mention, if a relative of a skinny teen happens to be shopping for a gift for that teen are they excluded too? Apparently, the sign "your money is no good here fattie McGee" should be on the doors of A&F.
I understand that what Mr. Jefferies might be thinking about is, target marketing. I get it. Lane Bryant caters generally to a Plus Size clothing crowd, but their marketing approach isn't "Big Chicks Only". They sell jewelry, handbags and other accessories that any woman can add to her wardrobe. At the end of the day, I am sure that a niche boutique or shop wouldn't shame a non-traditional customer for being seen in the store, let alone making a purchase. That doesn't make sense, because any business' primary goal is to sell items for a profit. If what Jefferies said has offended you, I say don't shop at Abercrombie & Fitch. His success depends on profits and sales, lets make sure he doesn't make his goals.
On a personal note, I have talked to a few people who have worked at Abercrombie & Fitch over the years, and most recently even current employees feel A&F is a joke. Most employees feel that Jefferies is one of the old football players that used to be Big Man on Campus and is trying to relive his glory days by showing up to party with today's in crowd (David Wooderson style "All right, all right, all right.", but less cool and overly creepy). Others feel he is out of touch with today's youth and was once an unpopular teen in high-school who got a makeover (Fern Mayo style) and pretends he's cool. One thing is certain he has #AberProbs.
~Christy Pastore @christypastore
Image Source: Salon.com, Abercrombie & Fitch