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My Take on the Abercrombie and Fitch/ Mike Jeffries Drama

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

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
CARADAWN 5/13/2013 11:29AM

    I like how you pointed out this is just marketing and that every company has a niche market - if they don't the fail. I don't agree with the CEO's comments but that is just his opinion and it fits pretty well with the Abercrombie business model. If you don't like the clothes then don't buy them. This guy made an extermely stupid comment and it was recorded - dumb, very very dumb.

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FITGIRL15 5/13/2013 11:23AM

    This attitude is terrible and just because "it's marketting" doesn't make it acceptable for his to make the statement and NOT be criticized for it!

I say, it's business... and if he REALLY does not want to make money off the general population, he will stop making his clothing up to size 12. Why not just stop at 4... cause apparently, everyone who fits larger sizes is unattractive and uncool. (COME ON, DUDE!?!?!?!)

His cooments are so immature and ludicris!

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JENSTRESS 5/13/2013 11:09AM

    My thoughts on it was this. First, I always thought their clothes were too expensive, even when I was very thin and could shop there. So, now, as a working mom, their clothes aren't really geared toward me. I buy clothes that I can wear for casual and work, and very little clothing that I can't wear to work. That is just my budget!!!

Second, however, is the illusion than thin=attractive or popular. Sure, I get what the CEO is saying, but that man looks like he was beat down by the ugly stick.

First, the models for all print ads (except plus sized stores) are thin. Because clothes hang well on them. It is why they do that. I don't mind.

I guess my thoughton the thin=attractive is that there are many thin people that can fit into their clothing. I see them. They have not attractive faces.

I would rather have an attractive model than a thin one. But, just like the Chick-FIl-A controversy, it is his right to feel how he wants. Of course, Chick-Fil-A doesn't refuse service to certain people, but to each their own.

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LOSER05 5/13/2013 11:03AM

    my Daughter wont buy his clothes ever again, and I say stick them where the sun don't shine.

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