Oh, Abercrombie. You continue to steal the headlines with your chiseled shirtless teenagers gracing the cover of your shopping bags, scandalous advertisements, and beautiful hand-selected employees.

Abercrombie & Fitch Open Munich Flagship Store

And thanks to Business Insider for bringing CEO Mike Jefferies’ 2006 comments back to life, Abercrombie is once again in our headlines. In case you missed it, in 2006 Jeffries made a statement to Salon.com stating,

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), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.

Yowsa.

Last week’s apology:

While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers.

Does my 11 year old daughter wear Abercrombie? I am ashamed to admit, yes. Last fall during back to school shopping I got suckered. “But, Mom! Everyone in 6th grade wears Abercrombie!” Nice work, Jeffries. Bravo. Your marketing to be “cool” is working. My daughter was starting a new school and I wanted her to feel confident and excited about going. If a few branded clothing items accomplished that, what was the harm?

Reluctantly, I entered the store with their music blasting at concert-level decibels, pretty sales girls, low lights, and enticing clothing displays.  I left the store with ringing ears and $150 lighter.

So, what now? I knew nothing about the 2006 comments. What is a parent to do? Should I put on my “mommy cape” and march down to Goodwill and donate my daughter’s stash of cherished Abercrombie clothes? Should I walk around downtown Seattle and hand her clothes to the homeless to make a point?

Well, I’m not going to do that. Why? Truth be told I can afford to replace the items. So what will I do?

After having my daughter read about Jeffries’ comments, we discussed why they are so wrong. We talked about body image. Eating disorders. Self-confidence. Inclusion. I told her she can keep her Abercrombie clothes but until Abercrombie apologized AND began making XL and XXL clothes, we were avoiding both Abercrombie and Hollister, their sister company.

So, thanks for your attempted apology Mr. Jeffries. I don’t buy it. Make a commitment to making clothes for all sizes. Repair the damage that has inevitably been done to thousands of kids and adults across the nation.  Show us you are changing.  ‘Cause right now, your marketing message sucks.

Until then, I am happy to shop at stores where I don’t have to wear earplugs.

What do you think about Jeffries’ apology?

Photo credit: Huffington Post

3 Comments

  • Grant Tilus says:

    Great parenting for handling this situation. As if teenagers didn’t face enough awkward, difficult and anxiety filled times, companies with these types of marketing messages only make it harder. Times are changing, the companies that don’t adapt will fade away.

  • Are you kidding? Tell us something new. Most brands aspire to be aspirational. It’s a classic marketing strategy. Then you happen across a brand that just so happens to target kids. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. When I was 11 (1981), Polo was the brand to wear, especially at the preppy Jr High I went to. I showed up in Esprit and was teased mercilessly. It hurt, just like the mortification I felt that my mother refused to buy me Polo shirts when the JC Penney fakes were so much cheaper.

    So yeah, I was sometimes that dork not wearing the right brand. I didn’t die. My mom always taught me to be true to myself, follow my heart. I remember how absolutely critical designer jeans were to my well-being in grade school. Everyone (our mothers) was pissed about Brooke Shields looking so sexy in her Calvins, but many of us managed to convince our parents to buy them and all the other rad disco-era jeans for us in the late 70’s/early 80’s.

    The fashion industry is a vicious, heartless master I’ve been trying to escape despite being able to make quite a good living developing clothes for the past couple decades, and having successfully pursued a career I dreamt of most of my childhood. Kids are impressionable and under tremendous pressure to conform. That’s part of growing up. The sad ones are the ones who don’t grow out of that phase.

  • […] events and cheerleader camps, and in the school cafeteria. And who could forget Andrea telling Abercrombie & Fitch to take their apology and suck it after their CEO’s comments admitting they excluded kids that didn’t match their […]

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