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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

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Showing 548 comments

Sammi on

Jennifer, you are an ignorant clown. Get bent.

Christine on

They are not promoting healthy lifestyles – they’re promoting hate and discrimination. Promoting healthy lifestyles is donating time/money to teach people HOW to be healthier – not by telling them they’re too fat to be good-looking, cool people. Get your heads out of your asses people – nothing about this company’s culture and thought-process is healthy or okay.

raulina on

I agree completely! why promote asymmetry in our nation?

at on

I’ve been against A&F since they came out with the catologue with only nude teenage models a few years back (no clothes on any of the models). My 11 daughter’s friends have asked her why she is not allowed to wear that brand, and I have told her to tell her friends it’s because that catalogue showed what the brand is selling. If a preteen is old enough to wear the brand, then she is old enough to know the message the brand wants to convey. But, I agree that it is a consumer’s choice; so I make this post so that more consumers can be aware and make and educated choice.

jeff on

A&F has every right to make the clothes they want to sell. I am 6’3″ and cannot wear their pants as they don’t come long enough, it just means I buy my pants at Express instead. You don’t see me whining about them discriminating against tall people.

If you have an issue with their business model, by all means shop somewhere else!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking on

LOLLL Yes, Jennifer, they’re taking a stand, “to promote healthy lifestyles.” That’s their goal…

sweetkatilyn21 on

Jennifer, I doubt anyone would walk in asking for a size 24. Just to let you know, some people wear L and XL shirts and they’re not fat. Some men and women are muscular and need bigger sizes. Also, many women have big chests and don’t want to be busting out of their shirts. So before you start passing judgment, get off your high horse. If you’re a size one, that’s lovely for you. Just like it’s lovely for someone who is a size 16. You need to learn the different between obese, overweight, and normal. Just so you know, a size 12/14 is the average woman’s size in America. So you’re basically saying that anyone above a large is obese. You need to learn your facts before you start spouting off about obesity and the right sizes for people.

cindimom on

Abercrombie and Fitch represents everything that is bad about culture in the US. We wonder why we have such high rates of eating disorders, teen suicide, school drop-out rates, use of anti-depressants among teens etc. to say nothing of the school shootings!! Because of idiots like the CEO of Abercrombie!! Yeah lets make a big point about there being” cool kids” and they only come in a small size.. Is he for real? Maybe if we worked on building on inclusion for everyone, and building self-confidence in our young people and acceptance for individuals no matter their shape, size, nationality, color or what have you, everyone would be a lot happier! Evidently he didn’t get THAT MEMO!!!

Stacy on

A&F have been horrible for years. This just confirms the experiences that I, as well as many people I know, have had with them. I’m Black and live in Connecticut. I like preppy clothes and tend to dress classically, as do my brothers and other friends. We’re law abiding professionals, people who would upbuild a brand. Yet, we all have stories of going into A&F, being looked up and down, completely stereotyped, and then being completely and blatantly ignored by A&F staff. That is why we don’t shop there, and encourage anyone who will listen not to shop there either.
If A&F wants to be exclusionary, then fine. I won’t shop there. But to state that the people who they market to are “cool and popular.” That’s taking it too far. It’s a completely juvenile, yet eerily “Nazi-like” stance…
In response to Jennifer who ignorantly believes that A&F is “promoting people with healthy lifestyles.” I laugh at your naiveté. Just because one is less than size 10/L doesn’t mean that they are healthy. And conversely, just because someone is over a size 10/L doesn’t mean that they live an unhealthy lifestyle, nor does that constitute a person to be classified as obese.

Theodora on

A DESPERATE attempt to built a cool profile. Indeed, similar to the attempt to bullies to built a name as cool kids.
I would be happy to boycott the brand but I had never heard of it before anyway.

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