Abercrombie & Fitch Controversy: “Are We Exclusionary? Absolutely”

    May 9, 2013
    Amanda Crum

The CEO of cool-kid retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is dealing with some backlash this week after it was noted that he doesn’t want his stores selling size XL and above.

The store has garnered quite a bit of negative attention lately after a Florida man started a petition on Change.org to get the retailer to carry bigger sizes. 18-year old Benjamin O’Keefe says, “In a world where teens are constantly under pressure to fit the societal norms of beauty, we should be building them up and helping them love themselves.”

With so much focus on body image in today’s youth culture, many stores have branched out in their sizing options to ensure that all their customers are happy, but A&F CEO Mike Jeffries has said in the past that he doesn’t want to go the way his competitors have.

“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….”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,” Jeffries told Salon in 2006.

That may have been seven years ago, but Jeffries doesn’t appear to have changed his mind. The company has been in hot water before over his decisions to use young, sexed-up models and his hiring practices inside the stores, but the company hasn’t changed much. The difference between now and then, however, is that many more young people are taking a stand against exclusionary practices.