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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Showing 548 comments

tim on

If Chik fila can say what they want….what makes A&F any different!!

xtina on

I dont think there’s anything wrong with feeling that way about what you created…. I think its just the way he’s going about it to make sure everyone knows! And that of course is gonna get tons of backlash, we try and teach our kids everyday to be nice to each other no matter what, but when their fav brand is telling them its ok to hate the uncool or fat people there is a problem!

Faith on

My husband has 2 long sleeve shorts from there and they are XL and are still tiny and tight and when he weighs 125!

firewife2011 on

Really? How is this news? Who cares? Don’t like the way the do things don’t shop there. Problem solved.This is america, you do have to right to shop wherever you want. Get over it, there are way more important things going on in our country right now.

Arnel Evans on

I may hold a boycott this weekend. Plus size people already get discriminated against, and the last thing we need is a moron like Jeffries to add fuel to the fire. I will have my boycott this weekend at the A&F flagship store on Fifth Avenue at 12pm!!

Alleigh on

@Jennifer,
There is a monumental difference between promoting a healthy lifstyle and public humilation/bullying. The CEO was quick to put a label on people for being plus-sized by catagorizing them as “un-cool”. These kinds of comment are extremly damaging. Think of the message these comments send. What if your child, God forbid was a size 12, would you want her starving herself to fit into the “cool” kids store? Thatis the mindset of some kids, anything to be skinny.

Megan on

This comment like a lot of others is foe Jennifer. I don’t think your getting the point of the article they don’t carry sizes above a 10 to promote a healthy lifestyle. They do it like the CEO said to aim to a certain demographic the cool kids. Me and my friends always say that you have to be beautiful to work there. I personally never cared for it the clothes are overpriced, the music is always insanely loud and it way too much perfume. You can find way more affordable and cuter clothes for all sizes at Forever 21.

Jennifer Chilner on

You can also add disability discrimination to the list. A friend of mine is in a wheelchair. She was told to leave the store by an employee. Not to mention, she would have fit into their clothes. This store has an appalling policy. I really hope more people stand up and refuse to shop at a store that discriminates this badly.

Deb McGill on

Go Team Abercrombie & Fitch! The rest of youl get a life!

Alexis Daniels on

@Jennifer First off the CEO referred to “The cool-kids” in high school. So besides being size discriminatory, he’s a blatant idiot. In high school why should you be focused on what name brand clothes you wear? That’s why America is going down in education, while poor, “uncool kids” from foreign countries, who can’t afford Abercrombie are kicking butt in test scores, math and science. They’re the ones becoming Valedictorians. I’ve never met a high school Valedictorian who gave thanks to Abercrombie. He’s an idiot and anyone who agrees with this way of thinking is an idiot too. It’s not about the elite either, many wealthy people raise their children to work hard and invest. Only people with weak minds and a sense of “in-crowd” idiocy would fall for something like this.

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