Abercrombie & Fitch‘s CEO Mike Jeffries is what I would call a delusional, sun-of-a-gun, idiot. In a recent interview with Salon, teenyboppers’ favourite brand’s CEO announced to the world why he will never carry plus sizes at his “fabulous” and “visionary” retailers:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “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. 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.”
The first thing that ran through my mind after reading this was: who, in their right mind, still shops at Abercrombie & Fitch? I am so excited to see Anne Hathaway rocking the latest collection of Abercrombie & Fitch on the red carpet at the upcoming Oscars… said nobody ever! Clearly Mr. Jeffries has no idea that the game of fashion has changed significantly in the past few years. Nobody is willing to pay an obscene amount of money for some basic t-shirts and jeans that have the same designs as they did in 2001, when they can just purchase something much cheaper & fresher at their nearest H&M.
As a YEG citizen, I remember back in 2003 when they opened their first store in the city. Many will recall that secluded store blasting House music repeatedly on the second level of West Edmonton Mall by the skate-rink. At the age of 17, I walked to that store mesmerized by the polished look of it and then realized one thing: “Ain’t a damn thing here going to fit me.” As someone who has struggled with weight-gain my whole life, I was frustrated and embarrassed trying on clothes that made me look like a California sushi roll. I had no problems fitting clothes at Buffalo or Guess at the time, which were also go-to brands for young people back then. But I felt subconsciously suffocated in Abercrombie, a store that is filled with giant photographs of half-naked models that look like they are on the verge of having unprotected sex.
Now, with Abercrombie & Fitch becoming irrelevant, their CEO’s comment just makes my blood boil. I know a lot people who are just genetically bigger, many of whom have much lower metabolisms. Not everyone has time to go to the gym everyday to look like a model. And not everyone, especially those who are seriously overweight, have the right guidance or motivation to lose weight and get in shape. There are even celebrities out there who are struggling with “fatness” as well such as: Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears… and according to Mr. Jeffries, these stars should not have a career right now.
As the popular saying goes: real women have curves! I would much rather see people with a little more meat on them than little, tiny skeletons walking around just to fit in to this society’s ideal image of what a girl or guy should look like. Mr. Jeffries’ comments will be devastating to many adolescents’ self-esteem as they enter into the adult world. Has he ever considered that those “in-crowd” girls and guys may have parents who are overweight? And that these parents work hard just to earn the money to buy their children some clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch so that Mr. Jeffries can sit and talk about how much he hates fat people? When I Googled the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO’s image to see who the real Mike Jeffries was, the first image in the results is of a man with a face that has been through many plastic surgeries.
All I am going to say is this: if you hate fat people, I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but where to shop ain’t one. Mr. Jeffries and his stores can go to hell and wait there until they have to file for bankruptcy!
CC Photograph Courtesy of D:>D.H.LEE on Flickr