Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries allegedly said that they only wanted “thin and beautiful” customers.
In an interview with Business Insider, Robin Lewis, a retail industry analyst and co-author of The New Rules of Retail, suggested Jeffries “doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing”.
“That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores,” Jeffries said. “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.” He went on: “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…Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
When Abercrombie and Fitch first launched off of Regent Street I have to admit I had no idea who they were. I’m not a jeans and tee kind of girl, in fact i’ve only ever owned two pairs of jeans, a pair from Topshop that I wore to death and then turned into a skirt and a pair from Alexander McQueen, because they were in the sale, they fitted and when I wore them in Milan and it rained the dye ran all over my legs and onto my brand new Lacoste trainers, the ultimate in fashion fail. So for me Abercrombie and Fitch is the essence of no style, style. The clothing generic, seasonless, and the store with a strange smell that literally wafts onto the Regent street and beyond and of course the weird male adonis adorning the doorway – why would you pay to be snapped with a topless boy it seems so incredibly tasteless. It’s funny how much tasteless costs. You must be thinking that I know an awful lot about a store I don’t buy from. Well in the days when I did personal shopping and assisting a personal shopper we had to venture in there a few times for very petite clients and as the CEO has been slated this week for saying they do cater brilliantly for the tiny of frame – and that is no bad thing, if you are really small clothing can be difficult and on that front I can’t fault them.
On my numerous trips into the darkened store – yes that’s right, a store with no lights on – I’m not sure if that is to hide the shockingly high price tags from bewildered parents or because the people that buy in there literally do not care what they wear as long as it has an Abercrombie and Fitch logo. I’ve stood there holding t-shirts up to the spotlights like a lunatic and wondered round the huge store that seams to sell the same product in every room. That hires models to dance like they’re in a night club – yes they don’t have to work just dance – and been told if I wanted assistance I could ask one of the ‘models’. I don’t want help from a model in store, I want to be served by a sales assistant – am I just old? Or has Abercrombie and Fitch really crossed the mark?
The truth is the brand does what they say on the tin and while I don’t agree with the idea that thin = beauty and the very fact they peddle this message so openly is worried but I do commend their honesty – after all lets not fool ourselves there are several high street retailers who evidently think the same thing, except they aren’t ballsy or perhaps stupid enough to stay. Abercrombie and Fitch are true to their values to their core and if that puts people off so be it. At the moment they still let anyone in and pre opening time i’ve seen people queuing round the block but I do see a day when the shop come nightclub introduces a door policy – after all the kids shopping in there don’t match the aspirational imagery that they are peddled.
This sudden outrage again Robin Lewis wont stop children wearing it and it wont stop parents parting with their cash in store, all it does is solidify the need within teenage peer groups to be a part of the A&F lifestyle – perhaps this was all just a clever marketing rouse, after-all it is not the first time the brand has willingly courted controversy. The truth and the bottom line is they simply do not care. They are corporation feeding off youths insecurities and need to fit in and while their message is shallow and exploitive and their clothing, frankly a pile of rags – they at least have the guts to admit to it.