Abercrombie & Fitch Apologizes For CEO’s Comments

Benjamin O'Keefe, 18, started a petition against Abercrombie & Fitch
Benjamin O’Keefe, 18, started a petition against Abercrombie & Fitch

It’s been a tough month for Abercrombie & Fitch.

The brand took a major beating after Business Insider re-published disgusting comments CEO Mike Jeffries made in a 2007 Salon article.

“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.”

Since that time the company has been the target of a major backlash including a petition started by 18-year-old Benjamin O’Keefe with more than 70,000 signatures begging the company to stop telling teens they aren’t beautiful and to expand their sizing (clothes are not offered above size 10 or Large).

This chart published by The Huffington Post shows the magnitude of the hit the company took this month.


Even Jeffries’ Facebook apology earlier this month wherein he said the company is “completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior” did little to quell the furor.

So the company has officially issued an apology. This, after a group, including  O’Keefe, who overcame an eating disorder, and members of the National Eating Disorder Association traveled to A&F headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday to protest Jeffries’ outrageous comments and force the store to redefine the meaning of “cool.”  As People Magazine reports, the group was invited in the building where they sat down with executives where they discussed the size limitations and blatant sexualization in ads, among other things.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s statement after the meeting:

“We look forward to continuing this dialogue and taking concrete steps to demonstrate our commitment to anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion. We want to reiterate that we sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by comments we have made in the past which are contrary to these values.”

I hope the company really makes some serious changes.  With awesome teens like Benjamin O’Keefe playing watchdog and by the looks of that sales chart up there, I don’t think the company has any choice but to toe the line. I, for one, think the resignation of Mike Jeffries would be a really great start.

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