Monday, May 13, 2013
Everyone in the fitness community all over the world, is up in arms about this whole Mike Jeffries interview with Business Insider where he made it clear exactly who he wants to purchase clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch.
“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis told Business Insider. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
A lot of people including other bloggers and fitness personalities have brought this up to me, expecting that I’d be outraged, but I have a bit of a different outlook on this, and I think you’ll be surprised.
I remember being 13 years old, going into Abercrombie and Fitch for my first time. This was in 1994 back when it was being managed by the Limited. Do you remember the old carpet that looked like flannel and the big old tables that looked like antiques? This is an Abercrombie a lot of people don’t remember. MY first purchase there was a sleeveless button up and it was a size small, but it was so baggy on me. I also remember the Woods cologne. I made my boyfriend wear it all the time. I actually heard they re-released this scent not long ago. This was before the brand changed to the super sexified brand we know today.
I have worn Abercrombie pretty much my entire life. I wore it all through high school. It was definitely a commodity and caused a lot of arguments because my parents couldn’t see spending $50 on a shirt I was inevitably going to think was “uncool” a few months after the purchase. But it wasn’t until college until my true relationship with Abercrombie and Fitch started.
From 2002 to maybe 2004 I worked at Abercrombie and Fitch while I was in college. I had a blast and made some really good friends with whom I still have a relationship to this day. It was a mindless college job. I got a discount on clothes (well, they actually made you buy their clothes, which resulted in a lawsuit, but that’s another story), I got to hangout with people my age all day and make a little cash doing it.
Many of you know that my body was also expanding quite a bit around this time. I would buy size 8 jeans and squeeze my ass and thighs into them because I REFUSED to wear a double digit size. At that time I do remember the sizes for jeans going as high as 12, but as low as 00. Occasionally we would get a few shirts in XL, but luckily I was still fitting into a large. It was no secret that the clothes ran small too – that was part of the re-branding that went down in 1997.
To be completely honest, one of my major victories I’ve had since transforming my body is going to Abercrombie now and buying a size 4 pants and small tops. Last Spring I went there and spent wayyyyy too much money. I bought a few dresses, some cute tanks and a couple of skirts. While I was there a girl who was helping me pick out a few things actually offered me a job. Knowing very well the “look” they go for when offering people positions, I was really flattered. I smiled and told the girl she was sweet, but that I was 30.
But seriously, having come from a place where I worked at Abercrombie and Fitch and barely was able to squeeze into a size 8 and large tops, to being able to wear a size small and getting offered a job is a huge victory for me – I busted my ass to get this body.
Furthermore, the Abercrombie and Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, may be an idiot for making the statement, “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,” publicly, but THIS IS MARKETING.
If you have ever started a business, run a business or worked closely with a marketing team for a business, you know that every company has a target market. Do you really think that brands like Bebe or Diesel are really trying to appeal to anyone other than small or average sized women? In college I couldn’t even fit into anything from the Bebe store – even Abercrombie had clothes big enough for me, but no one says a word about Bebe. (But then again they haven’t called attention to themselves.)
Regardless of how anyone feels or who is offended, it is marketing. Every brand has a niche market. Target has a niche market. Victoria’s Secret has a niche market. Starbucks has a niche market. The Get In Shape Girl has a niche market. You cannot hate on someone for this – it is how business works!
And, you know what.. the more you talk about, google it, tune in or read stories about Mike Jeffries and his antics, the more this FREE ADVERTISING is working!!! This company has never paid for typical advertising. Have you ever seen a print ad for them? Nope. This is why!
So you know what, I really don’t care who their niche market is. I still like their clothes. If you hate their clothes and hate what Mike Jeffries and Abercrombie and Fitch stand for, then don’t support them. But remember, that every company out there stands for something, and if you go around avoiding everything you don’t like, then you may end up really sheltered! I don’t agree with his views, but in the end, it’s just marketing.
What’s your take?
The Get In Shape Girl