Home » 2006 Bites Abercrombie & Fitch on the Skinny Jean Ass

2006 Bites Abercrombie & Fitch on the Skinny Jean Ass

You might have noticed a bit of a gap in the posts in the past few weeks as I took a break from writing to concentrate on some other urgent projects. Now back, let’s dig into something I heard about a few days ago.

Since I don’t shop at the store, I was not aware that the retailer Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t carry larger sizes of clothing. In fact nothing over size 10 for women.  The retailing giant apparently regards larger sized folks as being uncool and not brand worthy of wearing thier clothes.

I could go into a whole thing about how this is wrong. Wrong in so many ways. They will miss out on a large customer base (according to Business Insider, 67% of the market fit the plus size segment). This sends a message to those who might be affected by anoexia. It appears to be shunning those with a weight problem. It also of course is just down right offensive.

The news is not news however. The hub-bub has arisen from an interview with CEO Mike Jefferies with Salon magazine. In 2006, Jeffereies told Salon

“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. 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 – ed), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Jeffries went on to state that 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”.

Fans push back on the Abercrombie Facebook Page.

Fans push back on the Abercrombie Facebook Page.

While a specialty retailer like Abercrombie can’t be expected to appeal to everyone, the brand’s standard of beauty is quickly becoming stale.

So why talk about retailing and sizing in a blog about digital trends? Well lets look at when this article came out. It was 2006. Facebook was yet to be widely available outside of university students. Social media had yet to gain the traction and importance that it has today.

Now with the use of social media, old stories come back to bite the retailer on the skinny jean ass. Social media allows folks to pick up on items. If statements that are not true to the societal norm offend folks then they spread quickly. Enough that it makes the real news. This means that an article that was forgotten about comes back alive as more find out about the real intent of the company in terms of how it sees those who it does not want to market to – a bunch of fatties.

Your organization has a duty to be open and transparent. However if that message is offensive then it will affect your brand. Sure the ‘cool’ kids will still shop there, but others will mock and point out the error of thier shopping ways. Today’s kids are very astute about being inclusive. Brands can be bombarded by fans and followers. Social media is making this a story. Without it, it would have stayed where it was. In the Salon article archives.

Social Media Shout Outs

Abercrombie & Fitch may have gotten the word. Seems that they do not allow posts on the page, but does allow comments. They also have one hell of a large Terms, which I have not seen on other sites.

People will take the time to pepper the Facebook page with their outrage. One telling post is this one:

Dear Mr. CEO-I find it amusing that in order to post on your FB fan page under the rules and guidelines, it states any post cannot discriminate. Have you read those rules? Or are you too cool to have to read the rules and/or abide by them? You are an idiot. Do you realize that people of all sizes might not buy their clothing at your stores, but they might buy gifts there? Gifts for those thin cool kids as you refer to them? You are losing a whole demographic with disposable income-fatties with nieces, nephews, friends, etc. There are far classier places to shop. Places that realize being “cool” is not defined by size.

Good Luck Abercrombie. Instead of coming out and changing your tune, you made a second misstep and try to corral the comments and ignore the firestorm your CEO created.
Back in 2006 I might add.

One Response to “2006 Bites Abercrombie & Fitch on the Skinny Jean Ass”

  1. Alison says:

    Social media — where offensive comments can spread like never before! I’m glad you pointed out that his comments were made in 2006. That doesn’t excuse them, but it’s a tidbit of information I hadn’t read anywhere else.