Abercrombie CEO Slammed For Refusing to Sell Women’s Plus Sizes
Every now and then, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, is thrown into the media spotlight; either for his strange personal habits or the way he runs his company.
This time, A&F has come under fire because it does not stock XL or XXL sizes for women. (Their website has XL and XXL sizes for men.) To make things worse, Business Insider recently published a scathing article where Jeffries is slammed for saying he doesn't want overweight people to wear his clothes and only wants to see the "cool kids" in his brand.
Business Insider apparently picked up on a , which has since shot up to the site's "Most Read" stories. In the article, the 68-year-old CEO admitted that his business was built around sex appeal.
"It's almost everything. That's why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that," Jeffries said. He added that it didn't bother him that he was excluding some consumers.
"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he told Salon. "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."
Though Jeffries' comments came about 7 years ago, it appears as though A&F hasn't changed its views. Business Insider recently investigated the hip clothing company and unsurprisingly found that it still doesn't offer XL and XXL sizes for women. It's largest women's pant size is 10, while H&M's standard line goes up to a size 16 and American Eagle up to 18. The average size for women in the U.S. is 14.
The report made international headlines as a number of news outlets reported on the story. When Joe My God posted an image of Jeffries with the controversial quotes, a number of the blog's readers wrote responses.
"In other words, Abercrombie insists that its customers are ugly on the inside,:" one reader wrote. "What an ugly thing to say. It's not just that good looking cool kids are valuable to them, but that they are valuable, period. Awful. Despicable. Cruel," another said.
"In other words, our clothes aren't intended for the non-conformist kids who are most likely to be bullied by the completely conformist kids for whom we make our clothes," a reader wrote.
The outrage didn’t stop there, however. Some have launched petitions against A&F and Jeffries. One urges the company and CEO to "stop telling teens they aren’t beautiful; make clothes for all sizes!"
"Abercrombie’s attitude towards plus-sized teens derives from CEO Mike Jeffries. Jeffries has publicly made inflammatory statements towards overweight teens and his desire for them not to be associated with his brand," the petition on Change.org reads. As of this writing, the petition has more than 4,000 signatures.
Forbes’ Elisa Doucette, also called out Jeffries and the clothing company. She ponts out A&F Cares Corporate Social Responsibility Misson: "It is our mission to continue our efforts to support human rights, stand for and achieve diversity & inclusion, invest in our associates, give back to our communities, commit to environmental sustainability efforts and make responsible business decisions."
"This inclusion appears to be the sort of inclusion that is only kind of inclusive. You know, the kind of inclusive that a company puts in its Corporate Social Responsibility Mission when it wants to appear as if it is an inclusive company that socially conscious people should continue doing business with," Doucette writes. "Especially a company who spent the first half of last decade battling bad press about their lack of and complete disregard for corporate social responsibility."
"It is one thing to want to market and sell to those kids. It is another thing entirely to run your company like you are one of them," she adds.
Last October, Jeffries made headlines after Bloomberg News reported on the CEO’s particular flying habits.
"Clean-shaven males had to wear a uniform of Abercrombie polo shirts, boxer briefs, flip-flops and a ’spritz’ of the retailer’s cologne, according to an ’Aircraft Standards’ manual, disclosed in an age-discrimination lawsuit brought by a former pilot," the report reads. "Among the 40-plus pages of detailed instructions: black gloves had to be used when handling silverware and white gloves to lay the table, the song ’Take Me Home’ had to be played when passengers entered the cabin on return flights and Jeffries’ dogs -- identified in the document as Ruby, Trouble and Sammy -- had different seating arrangements based on which ones were traveling."
The document of the CEO’s rules went public as he was coming under fire by stockholders over his management style.
"Abercrombie’s shares have erased half their value in the past year, and activist investor Ralph Whitworth is pressing for changes, according to a person familiar with the matter," the Bloomberg report continued. "While Jeffries’s penchant for details helped turn Abercrombie into a global brand, the 68-year-old CEO is struggling to reverse falling same-store sales as shoppers grow weary of the fashions and risqué marketing."
According to Wikipedia, Jeffries was born in Miami and married Susan Marie Isabel Hansen, the daughter of Charles Henry Hansen, president and founder of Charles Hansen Music Publishing. The controversial businessman, however, does live with a "live-in partner" named Matthew Smith, who heads the Jeffries Family Office, an Ohio limited liability corporation that "advocates for the personal interests of Abercrombie’s CEO." He also reviews internal A&F documents and consults on real estate matters.