The CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Michael Jeffries, is taking it in the teeth today for saying something out loud we have all known for a very long time. In fact, his comments come from a 2006 interview with Salon that is getting recycled as fresh bait today.
“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.”
It may sound harsh, you may call it fat shaming, ugly shaming, or something along those lines, but this is not news people. We know A&F is for the thin and sexy people. We know it. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
All Michael Jeffries did was point to the elephant in the room, much in the same way Simon Cowell would on Idol. We knew the singer was terrible and while Paula Abdul would sugarcoat it with pleasantries, Cowell would lay it out in black and white. This is what Jeffries did. His stores carry limited styles in limited sizes for a limited target audience.
I noticed something about 7 years ago. I couldn’t find anything in my size anymore at the store. I had creeped up from a 32 inch waist to a 34, to a 36. The stuff didn’t fit. At 35 yrs old, I was no longer in the demographic of A&F. I had to look in the mirror and admit I was no longer 24, and it was time I started to act my age.
So I switched to one of the other 90 stores in the mall selling clothes. No harm, no foul, right? The stuff wasn’t in my size, so I moved on to a place where I could find stuff that fit.
Can you please show me where in the Bill of Rights it says that every store must cater to every person in the country? My wife is allergic to shellfish. Should she blast Red Lobster for serving things she can’t eat? No. We grow up, we move on, we find a place where the clothes fit, the food won’t kill us and we move on.
We cannot expect all stores to be all things to all people. I can’t afford Louis Vuitton suits and shoes. Should I be complaining that their products cost too much and they should be accessible to all? No, they have a target demographic and, unfortunately, my paycheck doesn’t get me in the door.
I’m 5’10”. Barely. I can’t shop at the Big and Tall stores. My weight is average. I can’t shop at the plus size stores. Should I be railing against them for not putting anything in my size? Hell no. There is a niche to be found, and Michael Jeffries has found his – young, skinny people. He would prefer them to be ‘hot’, but he can only control that on the hiring side of things, and he does. At a recent hiring fair, casting directors you could call them, went through the line picking out the good looking people for interviews without even looking at their resume.
Are you at all surprised? Not in the least.
The lesson for your kids is simple here people: the world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. You cannot have such a high sense of self that you demand every single place in the world bend to your whim. There are skinny people, there are fat people. There are rich people, there are poor people. It is wonderful when we all meet in the middle, but there are times when I can’t find anything to fit me at store A, so I go to store B. When I can’t afford a vacation, I stay home.
Spare me the faux outrage, people. Jeffries may be out of line for his comments, but if you’re just noticing it today,you’re not paying attention.