Abercrombie & Fitch CEO’s Mike Jeffries derogatory comments initially published in 2006 caught the Internet by storm when they were republished for this article. The reactions were immediate: a video gone viral – promoted by the hashtag #FitchTheHomeless- enjoined people to give their A&F clothes to the homeless. (The video was then criticized for its underlying message associating homeless people with uncool clothes.) Despite growing trends to introduce plus size models in collections (H&M just introduced plus-sized model Jennie Runk to be the face and body of its new beachwear collection) it seems that Abercrombie is sticking to its guns of conventional beauty, even as that standard becomes outdated; maybe that’s why the comments created such an uproar this time? Ellen Degeneres was the latest to take on the CEO’s derogatory comments with a few funny lines like “Honey, do these jeans make me look invisible?”. You can watch it after the break.
Here are a few quotes from the original Salon.com 2006 article:
“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.”
Much more than just a brand, Abercrombie & Fitch successfully resuscitated a 1990s version of a 1950s ideal — the white, masculine “beefcake” — during a time of political correctness and rejection of ’50s orthodoxy. But it did so with profound and significant differences. A&F aged the masculine ideal downward, celebrating young men in their teens and early 20s with smooth, gym-toned bodies and perfectly coifed hair. While feigning casualness (many of its clothes look like they’ve spent years in washing machine, then a hamper), Abercrombie actually celebrates the vain, highly constructed male.
“In the young men’s market, for the longest time no one was creating a ‘lifestyle.’ Particularly in the department stores, everyone was focused on hip-hop and urban brands, and no one was creating that average, American Joe look. Jeffries never lost sight of who his customer is, and he created a quality brand that caters to the cool clique and has a sense of exclusivity, yet it still has a mass appeal, because people want to be a part of it. It’s genius.”(Margaret Doerrer, national sales manager for young men at Union Bay, another youth-oriented label)