Is Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO A Jerk, or Just Honest?

Is Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO A Jerk, or Just Honest?

Unless you live under a rock you have probably either a) clicked a link to to an interview by Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, b) clicked a link to an article discussing the “appalling” comments he’s made regarding their audience or c) the video which has gone completely viral of a former A & F customer giving away his clothes to a homeless man.

In case you haven’t read it, the quote which has gotten everyone fired up was from an article written in Salon magazine where Mr.Jeffries was quoted as saying:

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “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”

Am I the only person who was not offended by his comments? Please don’t get me wrong, they were completely rude, inappropriate and inconsiderate but let’s be honest: he’s just openly said what many other brands out there do too. For a brand which is geared towards teenagers to say they don’t want uncool, fat or unattractive people wearing their brand isn’t exactly some new concept or message being put out there.

Think about it, when was the last time you saw a commercial for any brand of clothing where the teenagers or adults being displayed were sullen, loners or displayed any sign of being stereotypically uncool?

You don’t.

Why? Because bright, cheerful, attractive, happy and laughing people surrounded by other bright, cheerful, attractive, happy and laughing people is what sells products. It’s what appeals to the average person. This is even more appealing to the notoriously insecure teenage audience.

Mr.Jeffries was also quoted as saying they do not carry  XL or XXL brand of female clothing because they don’t want overweight women wearing their clothes, and only carry them in men’s clothing to accommodate large athletes (because you know, 17 year old high school athletes are known for their large, defined muscles requiring XXL clothing!). Again, definitely something he could have kept to himself and definitely offensive to a certain degree, but how many grown up women do you know who even want to wear A & F clothing?

That’s not to say I don’t understand that any teenager reading his quote who is unable to fit into the clothing in the store isn’t going to feel like total garbage. Or that there isn’t a whole slew of teenagers who probably took off running to make sure they could fit into the clothes because that would subsequently make them instantly cool (in their minds), but I also know that there are still those teenagers and people out there who just simply do not find the label appealing.

Perhaps I’m not offended because I’m one of those people. I don’t define cool by the type of kids shown in their ads and commercials. In fact, I don’t really understand what makes something cool or uncool or even care for that matter. I mean, who gets to say what or who is cool? There are many things, books, movies, people, articles of clothing etc etc out there that would fall under the stereotypical column of ‘uncool’ that I  think are completely awesome and therefore are cool to me.

I also long  ago gave up even paying attention to the number written on the inside of pants or the letter on my shirts. In general I usually wear a 4-6..but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a (clearly wrongly sized) 2 or an 8 in my closet and if you held up a 4,6 and an 8 out of my closet depending on the store they are from they are all the same size. The same goes for small, medium and larges.

But even fitting into what is considered to be a non offensive size (according to Mr.Jeffries), that doesn’t make me a cool person. I mean yes, I think I’m pretty fantastic  in general, but it has nothing to do with the size of my ass and it doesn’t even mean the clothes look good on me or fit me properly. In fact, more often than not I also have to try on 10 pairs of pants to possibly find one  acceptable pair. But I suppose I view the clothes as the problem and not my body so that also contributes to my lack of offensive reaction to the comments made by some snooty CEO.

Let’s also not forget the fact that there are other specialty stores geared towards strictly plus sized people that no matter how much I love an outfit there’s no way I’d fit in to them. They don’t advertise that they are targeting a certain audience and are a lot more tactful in their marketing but it’s clear they also have a target audience and it certainly isn’t size 2 16 year olds!  The same can be said for anything really.

And guess what? the people in those commercials are also bright, cheerful, attractive, happy and laughing people surrounded by other  bright, cheerful, attractive, happy and laughing people. They aren’t unattractive, dirty, sullen looking people. Why? because again, that doesn’t sell.

Furthermore, I must admit that I am personally a lot more offended by the video made in response to Mr.Jeffries comments than the comments themselves. I understand the thought process behind it – giving a big F-You to Abercrombie & Fitch and standing up for I am assuming people the kid thought was the ‘lesser’ uncool people but that’s not how I see it.

I see some kid using homeless people to make his point. Going to Goodwill, scouring the wracks to buy A & F clothes and then doing ‘charity work’ by handing the clothes out to unsuspecting homeless people. People who were probably grateful for the clothes,  but completely unaware that the intentions were definitely not being taken from the right place.

This has in turn started a “program” where participants are encouraged to document and share their “good deeds”.  Seriously. After I read this I could feel my  look of udder disgust  poor across my face – this face I make when I can’t even control myself and my eyebrows furrow and my mouth falls open and my nose scrunches up.

People, these are not good deeds. A good deed would be going to Goodwill and buying clothes on a random day, regardless of their brand and handing them out to homeless people….without video taping it. Without patting yourself on the back. Without sharing your “good deed” on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else. A good deed would be to do it from the right place, and for the right reasons.


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