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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Mary on

Abercrombie can choose to be descriminatory. I can choose whether or not to support such companies. Everyone chooses where they spend their dollars, and everyone should be more choosy about who gets them.

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.

Pegster on

I grew up in an era that had stores like 5, 7 and 9 shop that only carried up to a size 9. I think if this is America, we have the freedom to choose which stores to shop at or not. As far as me, I choose not to shop at this store. But do I think they are wrong for choosing a demographic that they want to make clothes for? If we don’t like it, then shop somewhere else. Pretty soon we will be boycotting a popsicle company who only makes red and blue popsicles and not all the colors. This is just so ridiculous and I am a plus sized woman. I could care less.

christy morris on

yes I still wear them I’m glad that a company is keeping sizes what they are and not enlarging them just to fit the unhealthy tide of obesity in this country. I’m thin yes I said it I’m thin and sick of gong into stores grabbing a size zero and its really a size seven n way to huge for me.Since the larger get pissed off saying its discrimination and cruel making them wear the size they really are. I don’t shop at plus size stores why shouldn’t there be a store that sells the sizes true to the measurements for us thin and not obese.

AngieinOhio on

A&F isn’t supporting a healthier lifestyle. The “cool kids” and “not so cool kids” come on now. We have spent a good deal on A&F clothes over the years and you can bet that this family of cool kids will never ever buy one more overpriced piece ever again. Shame on you A&F for biting the hand that feeds you! Say No To Bullying!

Becky on

Everyone matters. This cool/uncool ideology is crazy! He sounds like he’s 12

grama on

everyone should just stop buying from them, whatever the reason

Rebecca on

I remember back in high school I wanted nothing more but to wear A&F clothing, but I had no job and my mom wouldn’t spend money on the clothing from there. I’ve owned a few things from there that had mostly been gifts, but now I plan on digging that stuff out and donating it. There is no way I am going to support a brand that thinks people a little bit larger than me are too fat for their clothing. I wear a large there and even then it sometimes doesn’t fit me properly. Looks like I’ll be paying a trip to the local homeless shelter soon.

maggie on

I hope it hits them right in the pocketbook ! IDIOTS !

Morgan on

COOL people dont wear Abercrombie. There is nothing cool about being a walking ad.

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