The skinny on Abercrombie & Fitch (It ain’t pretty)

11 May
Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, does not want fat chicks wearing his brand.

Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, does not want fat chicks wearing his brand.

Hello and welcome back to Suffragette Kitty.

Today’s installment comes courtesy from one of our favorite fans, CJ. She is right, these are exactly the topics we hope to tackle here at SK.  Taken from Elite Daily, the Voice of Generation Y, which I encourage you to read.
Anyone who’s been to Abercrombie & Fitch in the last few years has probably noticed that they don’t carry XL or XXL sizes of women’s clothing because they don’t  want overweight women wearing their brand.
According to this popular teen clothing retailer, fat chicks will just never be a part of the “in” crowd.
They take a big risk with this tactic because two of Abercrombie’s biggest competitors, H&M and American Eagle, both offer XXL sizes for men and women.
The largest women’s pants available at Abercrombie are a size 10, while H&M goes up to 16 and American Eagle goes even farther to 18.
Abercrombie’s attitude towards plus-sized women derives from CEO Mike Jeffries. Robin Lewis, author of The New Rules of Retail, spoke to Business Insider about the kind of people Jeffries wants advertising his brand.
“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
Lewis said that the only reason Abercrombie offers XL and XXL in men’s sizes is to appeal to large athletes.
In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries confirmed that the communication between hot people is his primary marketing tactic.
“It’s almost everything. 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. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” he said.
Jeffries also told Salon that he wasn’t bothered by excluding fat people. In fact, he said that not limiting his ideal demographic would make his clothing less desirable.
“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,” he told Salon.
One might wonder why Mike Jeffries only wants to be in the company of good-looking people. That curiosity will end after seeing what this freak looks like.
After seeing a picture of Mike Jeffries, it can only be concluded that he was never around good-looking people as a kid and is now making up for the glamorous youth he wishes he had.

Now, my publicist and I chime in:
Yes, apparently retail genius Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch. is a 68-year-old LA native who studied at the London School of Economics and boasted $4.158 billion in sales for 2011. Of that, $46.6 million went directly into Jeffries’ paycheck, so apparently Jeffries’ business model appeals to some. In fact, he was recognized by the Corporate Library, which awarded him the prize highest paid worst performer in 2008.
Currently, Jeffries lives in Miami with his domestic partner., Matthew Smith. Smith and Jeffries have interesting requirements for the staff of their home and private jets. All staff are male models whose required uniform is made up of A&F polos, jeans, boxer briefs and flip flops. A quick spritz of A&F cologne is the finishing touch.

While this story may make headlines for a few days, my publicist and I doubt it will change the way people shop. A&F will continue to attract customers who believe overpriced, trendy clothes made in third-world sweatshops by child slaves make them “cool.” (The giant clothing retailer was inducted into “Sweatshop Hall of Shame 2010” by the worker advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum.)

My publicist and I find this all very nauseating. We will briefly mention that her brother, who is sitting across from her and researching the facts for this piece while she writes, is wearing Abercrombie & Fitch swim trunks. He was trying to conceal the label from her then added they are at least 15 years old. He promises not to buy another pair.

In closing, my publicist and I will share a fact that will prove Jeffries theory on skinny kids wrong. My publicist, who has never owned a stitch of Abercrombie & Fitch – mainly because its priced out of her budget and her parents did not love her as much as they loved her brother, wavered between a size 1 and 3 in high school. Not once was she invited to have lunch at the “cool kids” table.


10 Responses to “The skinny on Abercrombie & Fitch (It ain’t pretty)”

  1. Carol Jamison May 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Great piece, Miss Alcatt!!!!

  2. soonie2 May 16, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Excellent post!

  3. Nativegrl77 October 5, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Thanks for the visits and follow … good post. I can afford to wear but do not and have not lost out on a thing … size 4 . I get the feeling they don’t like women at all but big women are or should be their albatross

    • louisamayalcatt October 7, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

      True Nativegrl77, but we have since learned that other designers and retailers do not carry sizes larger than 10 or 12. Would make for an interesting investigative piece down the road. thanks for tuning in, and we enjoy your site, too, LMA

  4. kaylee November 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    The thing about A&F clothes is that they are very, very comfortable. They are made of quality material and are very cozy. That’s what make’s them appealing, to me anyways. I often shop in clearance or sale, so the price is lower, but the fact that this man is both not-skinny nor beautiful, makes me a bit revolted that he would say such a thing.

    • louisamayalcatt November 26, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      Hi Kaylee,

      thanks for commenting. Apparently Mr. Jeffries is not alone in his opinion, but one of the few brave (?) enough to be vocal about it.

      We have not tried A-F clothes yet, but do know that the company was once on the verge of bankruptcy in the 80s. It had such a reputation for high-quality outdoor gear, that it was the outfitter for the classic movie “Shane.” It was also main clothier for other westerns. Glad the quality is still there in the product. maybe the exeuctive office could use a QC check. xo LMA

  5. Harbans February 19, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Outstanding thoughts.

  6. Susan May 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Great piece! ( Happy that my daughter boycotted this store by the time she was 17 – going to send her this link !)

    • Louisa May Alcatt May 14, 2014 at 7:11 am #

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it, even happier that your daughter, at age 17, has such incredible insight. xo LMA


  1. The skinny on Abercrombie & Fitch (It ain’t pretty) « Stephen C. Rose - October 8, 2013

    […] The skinny on Abercrombie & Fitch (It ain’t pretty). […]

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