Abercrombie's 'Exclusionary' CEO Responds to (But Doesn't Apologize For) the Controversy

05/17/2013 at 01:08 PM ET

Abercrombie CEO backlash
Landov; Inset: Getty

Until now, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries has remained silent about the recent uproar surrounding his company‘s policies to exclude sizes larger than a 10 or L, as well his quotes from a 2006 article, in which he said (in part), “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

But after about a week of customer boycotts and negative internet buzz, Jeffries has finally posted a statement on the company’s Facebook page — though he stops short of an apology.

“While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense,” he writes, but adds that he stands by their original size policies. “A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers.”

PHOTOS: See the shoes, bags and jeans stars are loving right now!

Jeffries also says that that Abercrombie is “strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination [or] bullying.”

A Change.org petition calling for the company to change its policy remains up, and the creator, 18-year-old Benjamin O’Keefe, says he is determined to keep the pressure on Jeffries to be more inclusionary.

Tell us: Do you think Jeffries’s statement is enough, or should the company have to do more?

–Alex Apatoff

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Showing 253 comments

CM on

They are a private company so they can do whatever they want and suffer or enjoy the consequences – I’m just not sure the CEO is self aware about his brand. I’m pretty sure he thinks they are in J.Crew’s league and they just aren’t. This brand is declining and perceived to be “cool” in past years, but not present, in the markets he wants them to be. There is a reason it was all over Jersey Shore. That’s not a bad thing – A&F just needs to realize who they are actually selling to.

Nota on

“We are completely opposed to any discrimination [or] bullying.” Right. Sure. OK…and everyone is the same too.

B on

Abercrombie and Fitch is the new Ed Hardy

BS on

These posters need to get a clue. How can you tell someone to get over it, its his company he can market however he want yet try to discourage those that have a problem with his delivery to stop giving their opinion? They have every right to protest. He statement is offensive because he is saying anyone that can’t fit into his clothes are fat. Which is not true. If anyone too ignorant to know size doesn’t determine if your fat enough than educate yourself. Otherwise you look as foolish as a grown man talking about cool kids.

celo on

Has he ever looked in the mirror? He should not wear A&F clothes ever! He is not cool!

Gail Carpenter on

I think someone that doesn’t fit in Abercrombie”s clothes has their panties in a wad. There are many specialty shops that cater to a certain demograph. It is not like the people in question can’t shop elsewhere, I say let Abercrombie target whomever they please and be left alone. This country is so politically correct that we are becoming a nation of zombies.

H on

Should the thin population protest Lane Bryant? Should diabetics protest the neighborhood bakery? No. Abercrombie can sell whatever sizes they deem appropriate for their targeted audience. I’m sure Gap will soon be protested by the morbidly obese for not selling 4XL. This is seriously pathetic, America. The 18 year old who created that petition is exactly that: 18 years old. Too young to understand business and the world around it. Go to college, learn about the free-market and my goodness…if you so badly want to wear A&F clothing take the appropriate measures to make your body fit into them.

MAL on

I have to chime in here. Obviously this guy is an epic d-bag; I don’t think anyone can argue that. BUT how is A&F’s decision to only sell up to size 10/large any different than Lane Bryant or other plus size stores? They don’t sell extra-smalls or probably anything under a certain size at those stores. This is the same thing except on the opposite end of the size-spectrum. That being said, this guy certainly should have stopped short/inserted foot-in-mouth before he said Abercrombie is only meant for the “cool, attractive” kids and whatever other asinine things he said. Alas, no matter what he says now – apology or no apology – will undo the damage his ridiculous words have done to his brand. Abercrombie is sorely overpriced for really poor quality anyway, so I don’t understand why anyone would want to shop there in the first place…

Lia on

Notwithstanding the fact that the CEO contains more plastic than a child’s toy, his words disgust me. How superficial and shallow can you be? I’m sorry but there’s more to life than being a size zero and being physically beautiful. True beauty comes from within; it’s not the size of your clothes that count.

Karen on

Its his company. He can sell whatever he wants. Go shop somewhere else. I wear a size that he doesn’t carry and I honestly don’t care. I just shop at places that do carry my size. Get over yourselves and quit trying to make every else do what you want them to do. Stick to you guns A&F.

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