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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Josie on

So my daughter was teased at school today because she was wearing an A&F t shirt. “Nerds can’t wear these clothes”, the Kkds told her. She’s 10, and by no means chubby or overweight. .
I don’t care about Jeffries not wanting to make bigger clothes. I don’t care. But if someone “uncool” gets verbally abused for wearing a shirt, there is something horribly wrong.

Blaze Butane on

Their clothes are for teeny boppers so who cares. The danger is other retailers trying to emulate AF. Has anyone noticed how even Tommy Bahama uses young AF type models now? Why? Has the CEO ever looked in a mirror? Yikes!

Sarah on

Oh, I didn’t know that “cool” was defined by dress size – sorry. Please tell me who died and made A & F CEO the granter of ‘cool’ ? He doesn’t own that… Believe me, my self esteem isn’t controlled by what this moron says or does. However, I think there is a category of clothiers who are catering to waifs and anorexics – Great. They have a place to go and be with their other cool friends. I spend my money elsewhere. Clothes aren’t top shelf to begin with. Hope all those out-of-touch sycophant managers and buyers and CEOs grow-up.

Preston on

Well I think it is great that they don’t allow fat kids in their clothes. Not every should wear their clothes and for them to sell to an exclusive crowd is their business. I think people need to stop being so butt hurt about it and move on. You want tto wear their clothes lose weight. Why should they change their views becuase you and your family want to chow down on large pizzas and soda. Im boycotting the boycotters

lizzy on

I was not aware “exclusionary” was an actual word. Lol like “the possimpable” (how I met your mother refernence)

Linn on

Personally I don’t mind that they don’t make their clothes larger than a 10 or L just because I’m not a big fan of their style and wouldn’t like to wear it either way. BTW I’m a size 12 or 14, not because I don’t work hard to be healthy, but because I’ve been fighting a depression for five years which has led to a lot of comfort eating. I don’t think many people understand that quite a few teens that are overweight need help getting better in other ways before they focus on their bodies.
What I do react to about this it therefore the labelling. How Jeffries talk about thin people as cool and overweight people as uncool…

amy on

In response to Jennifer, there’s a HUGE difference. This guy is by no means promoting a “healthy lifestyle”… have you seen their “workout” apparel? He doesn’t care about healthy bodies, he cares about thin bodies. Beautiful, thin bodies. Anyone promoting health would have NEVER told someone they weren’t good enough or excluded from society, and they would definitely have a decent workout line.

chelsea on

I’m 5′ 3″ and 120 lbs. I’m not anorexic. I’m healthy and in shape, also I’m a size 0. I’m 31 years old and I love A&F. Now I bet if I went into a Lane Bryant store and asked where all the size 0 jeans were, they would laugh and tell me to go elsewhere. I bet if I told them I liked their style and wanted them to consider carrying size 0 clothes they would still laugh. My opinion completely, but I say what they did is okay. Maybe he could have explained his tactics in a different way so more people weren’t offended, but that wouldn’t of been honest. Plus that’s why we have freedom of speech

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