As some of you guys may or may not know the clothing brand Abercrombie and Fitch hit the media spotlight when back in 2006 the C.E.O Mike Jeffries stated that his brand was 'exclusionary' and a lot of people don't belong in their clothes.
He was quoted saying; “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."
As you can imagine this has had a lot of reactions globally and on social networking sites people have voiced their opinions in response. I can’t help but think the controversial statements is almost a publicity stunt. This was said back in 2006 and is coming to light now. When competitors such as H&M and Forever 21 are becoming stronger these other brands do have bigger sizes. Surely no one, who is a C.E.O of a company that large can be so stupid as to offend so many people on a global level and in turn damage their brand.
We are all aware that we live in a society where being thin and beautiful is the thing to be. We know for a fact the high fashion couture brands mainly don’t have bigger sizes. It’s almost like and unspoken truth. However, to come out and say something like that publicly is insensitive and a bad marketing strategy. I’m all for freedom of speech but when you hold a position that high in a company one would imagine you have to watch your P’s and Q’s. If we look a little closer into the statement he says that certain people don't belong in their clothes and they never will. So if someone loses weight, does that mean they still shouldn’t be wearing his clothes? To me this is more than just about size. This is about being tactless.
Oh no folks, the comments don’t stop there. Jeffires also has something to say about his marketing techniques; “It’s… 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.”
I’m not sure if Mr Jeffires is aware but there is a recession. People need jobs. Take for example if there are 2 candidates; one candidate who fits the image but is lazy, doesn’t work, is confrontational with staff, has horrible customer service but has the gift of the gab at the interview process. The other candidate for the job is one size higher than what they stock, their face isn’t symmetrical but is a brilliant worker, dedicated, focused and an all-round good employee. He would rather have the candidate that is better looking? Seems like a case of cutting off your nose despite your face. Does that theory go for customers? If they are thin but don’t ‘look the part’ would the staff have to refuse them service?
I have been to the store in Singapore and was greeted by topless men at the door. Needless to say I was taken back somewhat. It seems to be about being a sex symbol and from what I seen their customer base (when I was there) looked to be teenage and early twenties. Is that a good message to put out to young people?. With that’s said, beauty can be a very subjective thing. To one person an employee in his store might be good-looking, to another, not so much.
Speaking of ‘looks’, since Mr Jeffies is so concerned with looks perhaps he should look at himself.
Of course companies want a person to fit their image of their brand. Of course some companies don’t make bigger sizes. This isn’t something new. This isn’t illegal and companies are well within their right to do so not that I agree with it. However, the difference is most brands don’t come out and say tasteless and derogatory comments. This statement shouldn’t be taken as a war of thin versus fat or beauty versus ugly, it should be about the worrying mind-set of a society we live in for someone of his position to say something like he did. It’s the moral stance behind it. It’s the message it’s sending. It’s the discrimination. It’s the superficial element behind it all.
I used to work in the beauty industry. I am very aware of the pressure and the prejudice that can be associated with the retail and beauty industry. Body image is something many people struggle with. This is why some of my art is heavily reflected on emotions and body.
The UK and US have high percentages of overweight people. I would think it’s a large market to exclude considering it’s a high-street store. It will be interesting to see if Mr Jeffires profits are hurt as much as people are by his comments. Time will tell.
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