An AntiPrep’s Comeuppance? (Kind of NSFW)

Hello-hello and happy middle of the week to all of our treasured readers.

Today we wanted to chat about a news item involving a member of the AntiPrep Wall of Shame. Yes, we’re talking about these folks.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch

(With apologies, I wasn’t sure if this sort of picture would be considered Not Safe For Work, you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get a screen grab that didn’t show more!)

Regular readers have been subjected to endless carping may have noted our occasional posts about the company. It’s true we are forever harkening back have referenced this artifact before, the label from one of my turtlenecks. (I know, it’s so last century.)

The Prepatorium

The Prepatorium

The garment is not from Abercrombie’s heyday, but it certainly predates current ownership and management by a few decades. Or so. We are nothing if not frugal.

The point is this harkens back to a company that would never target pre-pubescent girls for push-up bikinis (remember the ‘Ashley push-up triangle top‘ for those 8 to 14 years of age?), nor would they market to your tween and teenage daughters with ads like these.

Abercrombie Facebook

Abercrombie Facebook

Or get them to sign up for the “A & F Club,” with a website front page like this.

A&F The Club

A&F The Club

That Abercrombie & Fitch may have gone bankrupt and ultimately been out of business. But at least they didn’t engage in the sort of thing the current company seems to enjoy. Some readers may know where I’m heading with this. Yes, it’s more about those news stories from last week quoting from a 2006 Salon interview with the brand’s CEO, Mike Jeffries.

“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.

The quotes resurfaced when a retail analyst, Robin Lewis, wrote about the company’s refusal to stock Large or Extra Large sizes for women. More from the Los Angeles Times:

“As far as Jeffries is concerned,” wrote reporter Benoit Denizet-Lewis in Salon, “America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere.”

In this day of the interwebs the reaction was almost instantaneous. Many were outraged. A Ohio mother, Andrea Neusner, sent her daughters’ clothing back to the CEO with this letter.

Dear Mr. Jeffries:

Thank you for clarifying the reason you do not carry sizes larger than a 10 at Abercrombie. Your customer is an “attractive, all-American kid with a great attitude and lots of friends.” I am a mom of 3 daughters, ages 17, 13, and 10. They are all thin, attractive, all-American kids with great attitudes and lots of friends. They shop at Abercrombie. I believe they are your target audience.

Please find the enclosed clothing, purchased at our local Abercrombie/Abercrombie and Fitch stores. My thin, popular, cool kids will not need them anymore.

Not only will I not let my kids shop at Abercrombie again, I will not let them wear what they already have in their closets. Normally I donate our unwanted clothes, but in this case, I wouldn’t want any unsuspecting thin, cool person to send the message that being exclusionary is OK.

Sincerely,
Andrea Neusner

A Change.org petition was started asking the company to “make clothes for teens of all sizes”; it now has more than 20,000+ signatures. The organizer hopes to get to 25,000.

And yesterday word came of a California man named Greg Karber, who created his own method to “re-adjust the brand”. His idea? Purchase Abercrombie & Fitch clothes at the local thrift store and give them to homeless people, or clean out your closet and donate them. More from the Daily News:

It’s payback for outlandish comments Jeffries made in 2006, when he admitted he only wants to sell clothes to “cool kids” of a certain size and social status.

“Abercrombie & Fitch only wants a certain kind of person to be wearing their clothes,” Greg Karber says in a video explaining his project. “Today, we’re going to change that brand.”

Greg Karber You Tube

Greg Karber You Tube

Here are Mr. Karber’s suggestions:
Greg Karber You Tube

Greg Karber You Tube

Some are taking those suggestions to heart:

Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed

The ‘hashtag’ being used to promote giving A&F clothing to those less fortunate is #FitchTheHomless.

Personally, I am not crazy about the practice of making presumptions based on someone’s appearance, i.e., “the homeless”. Nor does it sit right thinking that homeless individuals are so awful they are bound to strike at the core of Mr. Jeffries being. But do I appreciate the notion of people doing something about a business practice they don’t like? Yes.

Buzzfeed has its own record of the goings-on.

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed

Much of it actually seems as hostile as Mr. Jeffries’s attitude toward anyone over a Size 10. But there are also more reasoned approaches, like this image Jamie Smith posted on Twitter.

Jamie Smith Twitter Feed

Jamie Smith Twitter Feed

In case you are unable to see what the note says, it reads:

I’m not a size 10 or under and I’m beautiful! I love myself for who I am and my size. You’re just an overgrown bully who isn’t happy in life. Remember that next time you want to judge people because of their weight.

P.S. Your clothes line sucks.

Love The Beautiful Fat Chick

Now, are Mr. Jeffries and his marketing department probably reveling in all of the attention the brand is receiving? Probably. But they won’t be if enough people stop buying their merchandise.

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11 Comments

Filed under preppy

11 responses to “An AntiPrep’s Comeuppance? (Kind of NSFW)

  1. MCW

    Very interesting…I hadn’t heard this, what Jeffries said and it is disturbing and obnoxious. However, in the long run I don’t know if I will negatively effect his brand. Most kids want to be cool and popular, wha he said may want those who are trying to reach a certian status buy into what he is selling.

  2. I think it is up to the parents to allow or prevent these clothes in their homes. My mother would never have let me set foot in that store, what with their provocative advertising.

  3. There are several high end brands that do not carry size 12+ for this same reason.

  4. Absolutely disgusting. Is he still at the helm? I cannot imagine a company surviving this kind of backlash on top of the other problems that have plagued it. i gave up shopping there and actually boycotted it myself years ago when after going tone deaf to buy a ton of gifts one Christmas, they had no boxes, no tissue and get this….no bags! They put my sizable purchase squeezed into one tattered bag because they ran out of bags. What retailer doesn’t’ have boxes, tissue and bags during Christmas of all times? I was so turned off, I wrote the company, vowed to never shop there again and haven’t. Apparently I have lots of company.

  5. I worked at A&F when I was 19. I was mostly wooed by all the navy and embroidered moose, but also because some super cute guys also worked there.

    I remember always hearing that A&F was exclusionary, but I didn’t think it was actually true until I started working there. I’m nearly six feet tall, and I waver between a size 8/10/12. (Apparently, that was considered overweight even then.) To Mike and his cronies, being thin (size 0 thin) was more important than looks. I don’t say this to be conceited, but to try to explain the culture–I was better looking than most of the girls I worked with, but they never asked me to be in the “team pictures”. Yes. Team pictures. They would hand-pick certain employees to pose in a team photo that would get sent to corporate. In some cases, if there wasn’t enough ethnicity, they would pull workers from Hollister and A&F Kids to round things out.

    In retrospect, I feel bad for some of my managers. They were consumed with getting to eventually work at the corporate campus in Ohio, and I remember one manager being thrilled that she’d been voted “Second Most Attractive” in our region. (This wasn’t a girl that anyone would double-take at. She had a generous nose and plain features, but she was so tiny that even the size 0’s would hang off her frame.)

    I don’t know where I was going with that, but it was definitely a weird company culture.

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience with the company, it certainly seems to be in sync with how they operate. I read almost all of the Salon story from six years ago, it was definitely enlightening. 🙂

  7. pineconesandacorns

    I have read sever article about this company in the past year and I wonder why more people are not outraged by the blatant discrimination and more importantly insulting philosophy of this company.

    Attitudes like this are why kids have low self esteem, body issues and bullying happens.

    I will warn you, this next statement is not kind, has the CEO looked in the mirror? He is neither slim, nor good looking. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Have a great day, Elizabeth

  8. Susan, this is a great article I think you could post in a magazine. I can’t believe how Middle Ages the philosophy behind A&F is. Thank you for exploring the complexities of both sides–and I agree with you about the dangers of stereotyping “homeless people.” I understand donating them if you don’t want to support the brand anymore–totally agreed–it’s just that buying the clothes just to put them on the “undesirable people” A&F is indicating has two problems:
    1. Still funding the brand;
    2. Indicates the opposite of cool, thin, or pretty = homeless people–and that is not fair or OK.

    I think the ideal solution is to cease buying A&F, and with clothes already in possession, rip out the tags and turn them inside out before donating them–not sure how much good that would do, but I guess that’s as much as you can “erase” the brand.

  9. Awwww, thank you!! I’m with you on helping to clothe the homeless any way you can. If it means that you donate A&F, that’s great. The notion of simply stopping purchases (not that I have bought anything there) is the most appealing suggestion of any I have seen or heard. 🙂

  10. B and I have discussed this and we will never allow our money to buy clothes there. We will make every attempt to steer both boys away from there but if they insist on wearing the product line, then it will have to be with their own money, not ours. I hate the store anyway as it is loud and smells awful, but the remarks from 2006 make it absolutely repulsive in my eyes.

  11. Anonymous

    The things the CEO of Abercrombie said are disgusting. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Props to everyone who returned their clothes because of this.

    http://Www.chroniclesofaprep.blogspot.com

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