Backlash Against Abercrombie & Fitch's Anti-Plus Size Policies Reaches a Fever Pitch

05/15/2013 at 10:44 AM ET

The Situation AbercrombieSplash News Online

Back in 2011, when Abercrombie & Fitch offered to pay Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino to stop wearing their clothes so he wouldn’t tarnish the brand, it seemed like a funny, publicity-seeking joke. But as it turns out, it was actually a bigger part of the company’s retail strategy.

A recent book, The New Rules of Retail, draws attention to the company’s discriminatory clothing policies (specifically that they won’t carry sizes above a 10 or L) — which are in line with prejudiced hiring policies for which the company has come under fire before.

And in a 2006 Salon article, CEO Mike Jeffries defended the company. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he said in the interview. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids … A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Since that interview has picked up traction, Abercrombie & Fitch has been taking a beating in the press, facing customer boycotts — even in Hollywood. Kirstie Alley took on the store, telling Entertainment Tonight, “I’ve got two kids in that [age] bracket that will never walk in those doors because of his views on people.” A popular YouTube post shows a man giving out Abercrombie’s clothes to homeless people in an effort to “rebrand” the logo.

Abercrombie & Fitch hasn’t commented on the controversy, but there’s no shortage of people willing to discuss the situation and whether it leads to bullying. Tell us: What do you think of the store’s policies? What about the boycotts?

–Alex Apatoff

FILED UNDER: Fashion , Shopping

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Barb on

I am an older and larger woman. I wouldn’t go in that store if even I were size 2 and 17 years old. There are enough shallow, unkind people in the world. I urge everyone to boycott this store. This is how bullying starts.

lois on

What makes their clothes so cool? They’re made in the same slave labor shops as other brands, just a different lable.

Ella on

I’m surprised they think their clothes are cool. They’re not. They were popular like 15 years ago. Besides that it is the most heinous store in the mall. They alert you to their presence with overwhelming amounts of cheap smelling perfume, which is good because you know exactly where the store is so you can avoid it. I think it’s great the CEO mentioned the cool kids in high school because it just underlines how doomed Abercrombie is. Have you noticed that most of the popular kids in high school didn’t do that well in real life? While the rest of us moved on and kept maturing, they sort of peaked too soon and then became stuck. There are exceptions but for the most part that was their heyday. 1) The ‘cool’ famous teenagers don’t wear their clothes anyway 2) Their clothes smell really bad and so does their store. Literally.

Karen on

This is no different than if they would say they don’t want certain races to wear their product. While political correctness runs amok, certain groups are still being attacked and bullied. If you’re overweight or conservative, they can say whatever they want to belittle you.

Bonnie on

I’ve NEVER been trendy, but I most certainly am COOL. I don’t need a brand to tell me that what acceptable and whats not. Life is not about a number on a label…or even the label.

Katie on

I’ve experienced first hand Abercrombie’s joke of supposed “customer service”. Now that I have children of my own we will absolutely NEVER be shopping at this store no matter how “cool” we are.

LM on

My college roomie worked at Abercrombie and she said when they hired her, her main job was to be a model for the clothes. Customer service was not their first priority. After that, I never went in the store again. Your customers are who keep you in business. What an elitist snob. Plus, their clothes kinda suck anyway so I didn’t have a problem shopping elsewhere.

Tami on

I don’t get what the big fuss is about. It’s a free country the CEO can feel how he wants and say whatever he wants. The clothing is only for people of a certain body type. So what? He has no responsibility to other people’s children or people who are not thin enough to fit in A&F clothes. I didn’t say the comments were nice, because they’re not. If he wants to sound like a pompous jerk then more power to him. Don’t like it? Too big to fit the clothes? Then don’t shop there. Spend your money elsewhere. But don’t try to force the company and the CEO to make clothing for larger people because you don’t like what he said and how he feels. The man sounds like a jerk but he’s a genius because all this does is promote the brand to those who can afford to shop there and can fit the clothing.

Tim C on

He sounds like a pretentious, pompous size queen and not in the good way.

mair on

This is for Jennifer after loosing 150+ lbs. i am sick, Of still being called fat. i should be able to shop in any store, I wount, not all of us ate our way there.Some times its in your genes

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