Abercrombie & Fitch is knee-deep in a media firestorm this week, after an anonymous brand manager was quoted as saying “Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t want to create the image that just anybody, poor people, can wear their clothing. Only people of a certain stature are able to purchase and wear the company name.”
The exclusionary company practice was reinforced by a quote from Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries that resurfaced from 2006. In an interview with the Salon, Jeffries reportedly told author Robin Lewis that he “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store” because he wants only “cool, good-looking people” people wearing his clothes.
“A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. 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.”
Several people were outraged by Jeffries’ comments, including Kirstie Alley and Sophia Bush. A writer, Greg Karber has launched a campaign, dubbed #FitchTheHomeless, to urge people to donate unwanted Abercrombie & Fitch clothes to the homeless.
Amid the backlash, Jeffries released the following statement:
“I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offence. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterisations or other anti-social behaviour based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics.”