A protest occurred outside the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Chicago on Monday over the store’s “exclusionary” policy of selling only smaller sizes to women (topping out at size 10). This coincides with a firestorm on social media over the policy and various other forms of protest ongoing including handing out A&F apparel to the homeless in an effort to rebrand them and returning already purchased clothing to the CEO.
Part of the ruckus results from comments made in 2006 by the company’s CEO Mike Jeffries in which he said the store caters to “the attractive, all American kid.” He added, “Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Jeffries wants it known that A&F is for the beautiful people (and the people who think they’re beautiful which, let’s face it, probably makes up the majority of potential shoppers out there). He’s looking for the cool factor to brand his store.
To me, this is all a lot of wasted whining by people who might be better served using their energies on a treadmill or jogging than marching around in front of a store (although they do get some exercise doing that so it’s not a complete waste of their time). Bottom line—if they want to wear A&F clothing that badly, they should lose weight so they can fit in them. Period.
This is what capitalism is all about. Jeffries wants to sell to a certain demographic and that’s his prerogative. According to statistics, he’s missing out completely on 67% of potential female shoppers. That’s his decision, and if he decided it was a money loser for him, he’d change the policy or lose his position. It’s that simple.
Some people are attempting to turn this whole thing into some sort of political statement. For example, actress Kirstie Alley is speaking out saying that she would “never buy anything from Abercrombie.” She feels the store sends the wrong message. Others are accusing the store of “bullying.”
Kirstie Alley is well known for her battles against excess weight. A person in her position has other shopping options like Lane Bryant which, by the way, caters to shoppers on the other end of the size spectrum. That’s their market.
If you’re a size 12 woman and you really want to wear A&F clothes, you have two obvious options. You can either get on the treadmill and skip the McDonalds or stay bigger and shop somewhere else. It’s that simple.
The notion that A&F is bullying anyone is a big fat fallacy. If anything, the protestors are just giving A&F lots of earned media and helping out the stores. On Fifth Avenue in New York City, I notice that the only store with big long lines waiting out the door to get in is Abercrombie & Fitch.
We all have our own personal issues with weight. I’m a size 2, so I can easily wear A&F clothes if I choose. But I also really watch my weight because the television adds ten pounds. If I gain a pound, it goes right to my face. I can’t tell you the number of people who tell me that I look so tall and thin in person as if they’re surprised. Is that just a nice way for them to say I’m not “fat” like they thought I was? I don’t know, but it’s my personal issue. Fat people . . . thin people . . . we all have our own issues. That’s America.
A&F’s CEO can do what he wants. It will either work for him or it won’t. All the protestors can do their own thing, too. I’d just encourage them to think a little more about what the goal is here. If it’s simply to destroy a company, I’d suggest they reconsider if they also believe in keeping our country a place where capitalism is king.