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 252 comments

Valerie on

ask Chanel to do a 12 + size while you’re at it. Of course its ok to do clothes for rich good looking teens, so what? cant believe how America always tries to be politically correct. fatsos ad old folks not welcomed. get over it.

skep on

I think, since overweight and obesity affect 66% of Americans today, that this guy’s exclusionary practices are about to exclude him out of a viable business. That, and he clearly has no clue about what “cool” is, if he thinks it comes from the clothes one wears.

911spellcaster on

I saw a great video on youtube. A man scowering the racks at his local thrift shops and buying up all the used Abercrombie & Fitch clothing he could find. He then went and gave it all to homeless people. BRAVO!

More of us should do that, let’s see if Mike Jeffries like homeless people being the face of Abercrombie & Fitch. Perhaps Mr. Jeffries should look in the mirror before judging others on how they look.

Homeless people need help, let’s help them out with some new clothing!

Benny on

Ahhhhh… but the BIG difference here is that he has categorized and stereotyped the people who don’t fit into the clothes. If ‘Lane Bryant’ said that they refuse to make clothes for skinny, useless runts, that would be more in line with what Jefferies has said. He is classifying larger people as ‘un-cool’ and ‘unattractive’. Anyone care to call ‘Crystal Renn’ or ‘Whitney Thompson’ unattractive, Aretha Franklin and Sara Ramirez ‘un-cool’ or Christina Schmidt and Queen Latifah either of these names? Oh, and did you miss that he is now marketing ‘sexy clothing’ to second graders?

Deborah on

People I think what you guys have to realize, it’s not about the brand or who they sell clothes too, but it’s what he said and how he said it. I personally don’t like A and F clothing, and I feel their are brands that cater to certain groups, but they shouldn’t be boycotted over it. However, these other groups are not slapping people in the face with back handed insults either. So I think he screwed up as well as his PR people for allowing him to say it. For instance True Religion doesn’t cater to the overweight individuals, but you don’t hear the CEO making absurd comments either, no do GAP, BeBe, Lane Bryant, Torrid, Levi, etc… He had to put his foot in his mouth…

Thomas on

I’m a big boy. Not obease, but a big guy. I agree that he can market clothes to whoever he wants, just like Casual Male markets their clothes to big guys like me, and wont see anything smaller then a 2x there. The point I think is his statement is a double standard. Saying hes againy bullying, but basically goes on to say only cool kids can wear his clothes. It sends people the wrong message. I may not agree with it, but I’m not being a winey overreactive person about it

E on

A&F is for kids ! Kids! Not people over the age of 25. If you can’t fit into it , it’s because your not suppose to or yes , you are heavy for your age . This is the reality of most retail stores . I’m 27 and I don’t fit into A&F due to having a bum and chest , but I know I am to old for the brand and its not a personal attack ( not that I really care their clothes are horrible). If you are younger maybe it’s time to make some better life choices , why do we have to encourage and try to make everyone feel good about being unhealthy all the time. I know there are always exceptions but one retailer can’t cover everyone’s needs.

Margery Bass on

About the Abercombie & Fitch controversery: I am not one of their customers, but I think they have the right to market to a certain audience. If it’s wrong for them to not sell over size 10, then it is wrong for Lane Bryant to not sell under 12-14. Works both ways!

Jason on

I never understood why people would pay more for a distressed look anyway. It’s his company, he has the right to cater to whomever he pleases. However, stating that a person above a Large or a size ten doesn’t belong is ludicrous. Then saying we don’t condone bullying. Um…sure.

Jodi on

It’s a good thing he didn’t say only 8-10 on the beauty scale because him being a 3 wouldn’t be able to wear A&F either. Just sayin.

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