You can’t beat a movement
By David Worthington
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries has apologized for comments that some say disparaged young people who don’t fall within his company’s desired customer demographic: skinny cool kids. It came too late and smacked of insincerity.
Jeffries has been embroiled in controversy ever since Business Insider re-published a 2007 Salon article where he said that A&F was being willfully exclusionary by limiting clothing sizes. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids…we go after the cool kids,” Jeffries reasoned.
That statement inspired a backlash against the company. Grassroots activists mobilized against the company’s messaging by handing out A&F clothing to homeless people and over 70,000 signatures were gathered asking the company to rethink its stance, which petitioners say reinforces an idealized teen body image.
An apology might be welcomed, but it doesn’t accomplish much. The company cannot stop the movement that Jeffries’ callousness inspired. Nothing short of rebranding and carrying plus sized clothing would be sufficiently acceptable. Otherwise, it rings hallow and could easily read like an Onion headline: “CEO Who Said ‘No Fatties Allowed’ Now Says ‘My bad.’” It’s too bad that it’s not really satire.
The brand A&F reputation has suffered significantly and the allure that it did have with the “cool kids” appears to be superficial and trivial. Jeffries should have said nothing at all or gotten with the times: It’s most dope to be who you are. The 1990’s are over, and Jeffrie’s current mindset should be placed in the dustbin with grunge music, Dave Matthews Band Concerts, Phish Tours, the Atkins Diet, and raves.