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January 20, 2021

Why I’m not outraged about the recent Abercrombie and Fitch comments

 I’ve got an idea that may show Abercrombie and Fitch what I really think of their brand, and it involves a seam ripper and a bunch of 40-something moms.

abercrombie-and-fitch-modelAbercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries really caused it to hit the fan last week he proudly declared who is worthy of wearing his company’s clothes and who is not.

He basically stated that only the cool, popular and emaciated were qualified to wear the A&F brand on their chests and butts, but my non-conformist, athletic, kind, beautiful and wickedly smart teenage daughter is not.

I’m grateful  Jeffries is excluding my kid. She’s way too awesome to be one of Jeffries’ narcisstic Stepford teens. I’m not bothered by the recent story because I got ticked off years ago. The public seems to have forgotten this is the company that has given us soft porn ads, half-naked male models in the stores,  girl’s panties with “eye candy” emblazoned on the crotch, and padded bikini tops for 8-year-olds.  The current outrage seems to say, “It’s okay you hyper-sexualized kids and teens for all these years, but you really crossed the line when you started excluding heavy and unattractive kids!”

I understand that a private company has the right to market itself anyway it chooses, and the selling-the-lifestyle approach works for Jeffries and others. Will the recent exclusionary and elitist comments hurt A&F?  Sadly, my PR-mind believes it will only galvanize the brand’s biggest fans and the finacially-enabling parents who can’t say no. Jeffries’ words and actions reinforce a cruel caste system for teen girls that is based on who can fit into and who can afford to pay $90 for a pair of jeans.

The store carries “women’s” sizes that range from 0-10.  What does that mean? Their t-shirts, which are designed to hug the body, will fit girls with a 32-inch bust (small) up to a 38-inch bust (large). In pants, a size 0 will fit a girl with a 23-inch waist, and a size 10 will fit a 31-inch waist.  Yes, I am saying “girls” because the clothing does not accomodate puberty-induced factors such as cup size or hip measurements.

Young men don’t suffer the same fate. Their sizes go up to XXL.

Obviously, my boycott of the company hasn’t hurt them, but filmmaker Greg Karber has come up with something that may work. He’s proposing a brand readjustment, which essentially means putting A&F clothes on the very people that Jeffries wants to exclude – those who are not rich or beautiful.  Karber’s tongue-in-cheek social media campaign, “Fitch the Homeless,” encourages people to scour thrift shops for donated A&F clothing and then distribute the items to the homeless. Some may say that Karber’s actions are insulting to the less fortunate. Others may ask, “Why do we have to punish the homeless by making them wear this crap?”

Overall, the idea makes me smile- it clothes the needy and makes a statement against Jeffries’ snotty and egotistical behavior.

I’d like for all moms to take Karber’s campaign a step further. I’m thinking about hitting the thrift shop with several of my friends. We’ll buy some A&F items, let out some of the seams, cram our middle-aged busts and butts into them and march around the mall. We may even recruit some grandmothers to take seductive pictures of themselves in the A&F clothing and make a special catalog just for Jeffries.

See Karber’s plan below.


1 Comment on Why I’m not outraged about the recent Abercrombie and Fitch comments

  1. However, what if the mistake has already been made? The best thing a PR professional can do in this scenario is admit the lapse in judgment and apologize immediately. Once Jeffries’ comments went viral, he stayed silent, which was perceived as insensitive. It would have been far more effective for Jeffries to have reacted quickly, immediately issuing an apology and urging the public that his comments were taken out of context. Since the initial outrage, he did eventually offer a “ half apology ,” which has not gone over well. The damage has been done, and it’s unclear how the brand will recover.

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