Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t stock any women’s sizes above large, or any women’s pants bigger than size ten because the company doesn’t want larger women wearing their brand.
They do stock bigger sizes in men’s clothing, but apparently that is to appeal to muscular football players and wrestlers.
The controversial US clothing retailer has been accused of deliberately excluding plus-size women before. Now Robin Lewis, a retail industry analyst and co-author of “The New Rules of Retail,” says Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people.”
From The Independent:
In an interview with Business Insider, Lewis suggested Jeffries “doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
The chain, which has more than 300 outlets in the US, sells men’s clothes in XL and XXL sizes, but these are designed solely to fit the muscle bulk of strapping sportsmen, says Lewis. “Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard.”
‘He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing,’ Mr Lewis added.
“Are We Exclusionary? Absolutely”
In case you’re thinking this just sounds way over-the-top, here are Jeffries’ words from a 2006 interview with Salon, as he discusses sex appeal. “It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
He went on: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
As a high school teacher, this just makes me mad. So many of my teenage girls are striving to meet this precise goal: to be thin, beautiful, popular, ‘cool’ with lots of friends, an image deliberately cultivated by certain media.
53 percent of American girls report that they are unhappy with their bodies at age thirteen, while 78 percent are unhappy with their bodies at age seventeen. As a result of struggling with their “ideal” body image, an estimated five percent of adolescent girls are suffering from anorexia. Every year around a thousand women in the U.S. die from the disease.
Mike Jeffries, with his chain of retail stores designed for the 18-22-year-old market, is in a position to damage a lot of young women with his pompous pronouncements, but apparently he doesn’t care.
Employees Must Also Be Thin And Beautiful
It’s not just the customers: only the thin and beautiful are encouraged to apply for employment; if you’ve ever been to the store you are probably familiar with its semi-naked sales assistants, who wander around in the semi-darkness. But even if customers can barely see them, those assistants have to match up to standards.
From The Independent:
In 2004 A&F settled a $40m (£26m) class-action discrimination lawsuit in the US, after accusations that it filled its shop floors with almost exclusively white staff. Five years later, Riam Dean, a British student born without a left forearm, won £9,000 from the firm after she was forced to work in a stock-room, where she wouldn’t be seen by customers. Last year, a leaked company email revealed that employees at the chain’s Milan store were made to perform military-style exercises, such as push-ups and squats, in order to maintain their toned physiques.
But rumor has it that A&F isn’t doing so well these days. Are they getting their comeuppance?
Recent estimates suggest that 67 percent of the clothes-purchasing public in the U.S. wear plus-size clothing, and the number is growing all the time.
But don’t expect A&F to change any time soon; after all, as their CEO states, they are only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard.
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