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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

Cookie on

I call BS. My son was hired to work there. He is a what you would call clean cut. After they forced him to purchase their clothing, they only gave him about 1o hours a week. He had friends who also worked there, and they wanted to give him some of their hours, but the manager would not let them. Keep in mind my son is 5’8 with a 32′ waist, but the problem was not his size, it was the color of his skin. Management told one of his friends (in confidence) that they did not want to have “the black kid” on the floor because he would attract the wrong people. We live in Woodland Hills, CA and my son is a college student whom has never so much as gotten a jay walking ticket. This was his first job experience and it was a horrible experience. Thank goodness he was only working for gas money and little things. Needless to say, he and his friends decided this was not the place for them, and gave their notices. Now none of these young people shop there anymore and it tickles me every time I walk by and they have all of the “good looking” people with nothing to do because the store is usually empty.

Just My Opinion on

While I agree that A&F has every right to cater to a demographic within a certain body type and size I take offense at this a-hole, in his original article, stating that he only wants good looking people to wear A&F. Unlike size, how do you defnite “attractive?” On the bright side, using that logic, he WON’T be wearning the product he sells.

LeeLadyBug on

Who cares? While I can shop in their stores, I don’t. There’s nothing spectacular, trendsetting, or intriguing about their brand. I buy what I like. He’s an ***hole, so get over it.

Bailey on

Abercrombie has every right to carry whatever they want, but I do think the “cool” vs “uncool” is ridiculous and somewhat irresponsible considering their target demo is teens. I do have a problem with the fact that in men’s someone can buy up to a size XXL and in women’s it is a size L. I guess it’s ok to be big if you are a guy, but not a girl. Such a double standard.

Mel on

Those of you are claiming this is a non-issue are missing the bigger point. This is about the CEO of a clothing company saying his company openly discriminates against those who don’t fit ‘HIS’ ideal. As for the girl who wants to boycott Lane Bryant because they don’t carry XS, we big girls have dealt with this from every clothing store out there — NY&CO, Limited, American Eagle, GAP, etc. Suck it up.

Ashln on

After I saw his pic I can’t figure out what the uproar is about. That fool looks like Sloth from the Goonies!

Terri on

I don’t care what anybody says – this man is sending the wrong image to the youth of today and tomorrow. We as parents try to teach our kids to be yourself but people in society like this show that it’s body image is what is going to make you accepted in life!!! THIS IS WRONG!!!!!!!!

lucy on

And if he were to look in the mirror he would realize he is NOT cute enough for his company!!

josie on

While i have no problem with them catering to a small sized audience, i do find his comments to be insulting. The fact that uncool kids would not be allowed to wear or shouldnt be wearing A&F clothing according to him. Who is he to judge people. If they have the money and can fit into the clothes why is he still desciminating again those he deems “uncool”

Big Difference on

I am reading a lot of these comments that say ‘shouldn’t people boycott Lane Bryant, they cater to plus size people’, etc. There is a BIG difference. A&F has every right to cater to whomever they choose to cater to, I don’t think anyone disputes that. The difference is you don’t see any representatives from Lane Bryant telling kids who are easily influenced, and trying to find out who they are that they ‘aren’t cool’ if they don’t fit into LB’s clothes. I don’t particularly care who A&F chooses to cater their junk clothes to, but it’s when he opens his mouth and makes comments about ‘cool kids’, that’s the issue I have with him.

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