Abercrombie & Fitch's Strange CEO May Want to Rethink

Abercrombie & Fitch Under Fire For Lack of Plus-Sized Clothing

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries is once again attracting all the wrong kinds of attention.

Last week, Business Insider highlighted the retailer's longstanding practice of only stocking small sizes and spurning plus-sized customers. It pointed to a 2006 Salon interview in which Jeffries candidly allowed that "we go after the attractive all-American kid" and that "a lot of people don't belong in our clothes."

That practice is nothing new, then, but it's once again thrust the eccentric executive into the public spotlight. In 2010, the retailer was sued by a corporate jet pilot who claimed he was fired for being too old. And last year an interesting tidbit from that suit hit the press: An airline manual describing the CEO's curious standards for his flight crew. The press grabbed hold of the sordid details, including the fact that the flight attendants were required to be young men in Abercrombie jeans, boxer briefs and wearing a spritz of Abercrombie-brand cologne.

So Jeffries' no-fat-customers policy may have more to do with his own personal predilections for youth and beauty than any rational business argument.

The renewed focus on Abercrombie's business model also has a lot of people talking about Jeffries' own appearance, which many attribute to the 68-year-old CEO using plastic surgery to fight the ravages of time. One user on Reddit posted a recent picture of the executive and declared him "too ugly to work at his own stores"; the line of attack has gone viral, with various critics mocking the seeming disconnect between Jeffries' strange appearance and his stated desire to only cater to the thin and beautiful.

Regardless of Jeffries' supposed hypocrisy, there's an argument to be made that restricting his target audience might be bad for business. As one commentator notes, two-thirds of American clothes-buyers are considered plus-sized, so Abercrombie might want to consider tweaking its offerings to sell to a broader cross-section of consumers.

UPDATE: The latest development in this saga addresses the controversy in a way that's a bit more clever than calling Jeffries ugly. Writer Greg Karber has started a campaign he's dubbed "Fitch the Homeless," which donates Abercrombie and Fitch clothing to homeless people. Since Jeffries is on record as stating that he only wants "attractive" and "cool" people to wear his clothes, Karber is obviously aiming to is to antagonize Jeffries by making it the preferred brand for the homeless.

While we're not crazy about the idea of using homeless as props in this fights, we're guessing they don't really mind getting some new clothes.

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Sonsern Lin

Many believe that the whole idea of #fitchthehomeless is degrading because the homeless people are being used to contrast the idea of cool. The attempt to #fitchthehomeless looks down upon homeless people as "unworthy," or lesser human beings. And it’s not clear how or whether, from the homeless perspective, this stunt is actually helping anything.

P1124 is another company in contention for the title of no. 1 brand of the homeless. P1124 has started a “Wear One, Share One” campaign to clothe the same group homeless people on Skid Row. But unlike the #fitchthehomeless movement, whose goal is to shame Abercrombie without regard to the wellbeing of the homeless, P1124's goal is to uplift and bless the homeless. The “Wear One, Share One” Campaign is simple; buy one shirt, get two, one to wear, one to share. The goal is to #uplifthehomeless, and show them that they are worthy of receiving the same new clothes that we purchase for ourselves.

Very interesting… P1124 is currently raising funds on indegogo, check it out: http://goo.gl/nQ1lH

May 16 2013 at 7:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't care how much money this man has. He's a self loathing creep. He see's himself in the mirror everyday. He knows what he looks like. He's self projecting.

May 15 2013 at 10:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I dont shop there and now I will never shop there. Who needs more worn out looking "weekend at shore " clothes. Jeffries is caught in a dream of Haute Couture or high fashion of which A & F is neither. A & F Loyal shoppers will go there and their family will continue to ask them..."are you wearing that?" Thin,beautiful and "Hip" people get smart....don't wear this crap. Visionary.... my ass, he is unattractive wanna be. the world if full of them. Just watch how many stores close this year... hmmmm.

May 15 2013 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

His cosmetic surgery is up there with Kenny Rogers and Bruce Jenner as the top 3 worst! Has this joke looked in the mirror lately?

May 15 2013 at 8:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kilbyhanna's comment

You forgot Mickey Rourke.

May 15 2013 at 10:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

it is a private company, they can sell what they want. This might be good for retail-having the stores cater to "niche" markets. It would reduce competition among them and make them more profitable

May 15 2013 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Janet Romano

whoever would wear ugly logo t shirts , being told by a bad facelift tranny needs to rethink what there doing!

May 15 2013 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Thalia Crimson

Lets get all us larger women up to A&E, hang out outside, and make is so the "cool" and "popular" people feel out of place and insignificant they way they are making us out to be.

And Gilbert if they truly wanted everyone to be inclusive and want our society to be this way Jeffries wouldn't act this way or promote others to act so exclusionary. Have you seen an XL in womens clothes?.. It is still small compared to plus sizes, in fact that hip size is NORMAL for women.

May 15 2013 at 5:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Haven't you heard, Jeffries? Healthy is the New Skinny!


May 15 2013 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is going way back, but in the movie "Watermelon-Man", a bigot goes to bed a white man, and wakes up a black man (both parts played by the late Godfrey Cambridge).
So wouldn't it be sweet if this jerk would wake-up one morning fat? His face can't get much uglier.

May 15 2013 at 12:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I don't understand the outrage. I thought we wanted to be an inclusive Society tolerant of all points of views. If he wants to cater to skinny people as his business model it should be okay. He would however be missing out on the Larger Market Share of clothing buyers.

May 15 2013 at 12:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply