10 Ways Abercrombie & Fitch Has Gone Too FarTyler Vendetti

Abercrombie & Fitch, once a cherished brand among middle school girls, has recently mastered the art of making people hate it. Mike Jeffries, CEO of A&F and winner of the “Worst Human Ever” award, has a history of speaking his mind and unfortunately for him (and his company), his mind isn’t very pleasant. As a result, the company itself has started to suffer. Here are some reasons why:

1) Its Anti-Fat Campaign

In a 2006 interview with Salon Magazine, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries explained why his stores don’t offer XL or XXL sizes for women, claiming that  he doesn’t want to attract buyers that may have been one of the “not-so-cool” kids in high school. “Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny…but then you become totally vanilla,” he said. If Jeffries truly believes that he epitomizes the elite “cool kids,” then I believe he has been grossly misled because surely no group of cool kids in their right mind would hang out with a guy that describes things as “totally vanilla.” Let’s be honest, here.

2) The New “No Black” Policy

In one of its recently released statements, the company’s corporate offices banned its employees from wearing black to work, noting, “We have nothing against black clothing and feel it is perfectly appropriate for things like tuxedos, penguins, zebras, ravens and Oreos.” He actually didn’t say the last few items but he might have because they were equally as irrelevant.

3) Thongs for Kids

At a pitch meeting for Abercrombie & Fitch in 2002, an employee looked at his employees and said with a twinkle in his eye: “You know what this world needs? Thongs for children.” And that’s exactly what he did. (Not based on a true story, but it could have been.) Although the underwear line, which had words like “eye candy” and “wink wink” inscribed on the back, were quickly pulled from the shelves, their mere existence reveals the ignorance floating around behind company lines.

4) Its Focus On Good-Looking People

“[Sexual attraction] is 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.” – Mike Jeffries

Here’s an idea. How about you hire intelligent people, and then, one of them that knows how to use a thesaurus (seriously, do you not know any other word for “good-looking people”) can take over your job and undo all the negativity that your morally-corrupt mind has spewed out over the years?

5) It’s Overpriced

There is a pair of jeans in Abercrombie & Fitch worth 220 dollars. That’s almost as much as a very cheap iPad or one hundred iced coffees. For fabric to cover your legs. The logic here eludes me.

6) Its Larger-Than-Life, Half-Naked Wall Models

Walking through an Abercrombie & Fitch makes me almost as uncomfortable as watching a movie with my parents that contains a large number of sex scenes. Like, am I supposed to be admiring these large, shirtless men on the walls? How long can I stare before admiration turns into weird fascination? What if someone catches me? Is this even socially acceptable? I just can’t handle the pressure, you guys.

Aber Model

Suddenly, a wild model appears!

7) Keeping Mike Jeffries As the CEO

Most of this is his fault, anyway.

Mike

8) The Jungle Atmosphere

I’ve never been on a real safari but I’ve been in Abercrombie & Fitch a couple of times, which is pretty much the same thing. With the foggy air (likely a mix of cologne and drugs that make people delusional enough to continue shopping there) and the lack of proper lighting, A&F could really be an unofficial jungle and you would never know.

9) The Moose Logo

Assuming it is, in fact, a jungle, having a moose as a logo is pretty anti-climactic. I mean, why not a tiger? Or a gorilla? Or a giant python-dragon hybrid? (Which, now that I think about it, would really just be a giant, flying worm, so maybe not, but you get the point.) No offense to meese (I know the plural is also moose but it still sounds weird to me). You guys are still pretty cool, just not vicious enough for a quasi-jungle clothing store.

Moose

I mean, I guess he’s kind of cute.

10) Its Name Is Far Too Long

Abercrombie & Fitch. You can’t even shorten that eloquently. A and F. Aberfitch. Aber & Fitch. Abby. Fitchy. Why not just title it “Clothes”? Saves everyone the trouble.

Image via MassLive.com

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  1. Tyler – I dig your writing style. I will continue to read your posts. With that said, I do have a few things to say about this:

    I am shocked that so many people feel so strongly about this. So Mike Jeffries said some ignorant things about the demographic he’s targeting – ok? Let’s all boycott Victoria’s Secret because if your waist is bigger than 30 inches (jean size 10) you ain’t getting any panties. Or how about we throw some poo at Torrid (plus size retailer) for discriminating against skinny people? I am 25 years old, have been shopping at Abercrombie since age 13, and STILL have t-shirts that fit, and are in great condition. That said being, the prices can be steep, but what lacks in price is made up for in quality. Same goes for jeans – do I purchase a new pair here and there? Sure. But I’m also still wearing pairs I bought six years ago. And after 10+ years of shopping here, I have never seen a pair of jeans for $220. $80? yes.

    I worked at the establishment for 2 years – sweet – I guess I made the cut. But let’s be honest, appearance plays a role in any occupation, whether we like it or not.

    So for all of you patting yourselves on the back for never giving this company a penny or even setting foot inside the store…YAY. Here’s your medal. Because it’s totally uncommon to NOT shop at places you don’t like.

  2. My classmates dragged me into A&F when we took a college trip to New York City. I was honestly so scared of getting lost – the safari analogy was right. Some of their cologne smelled REALLY nice, but was so expensive – here in the UK we have Jack Wills which is probably like the English A&F equivalent, but at least they sometimes use Harris tweed and anyone can apply for a job. Doesn’t mean not only perfect looking people will get hired, they too have tiny sizes and not a wonderful track record, but I’d pay for theirs any day over A&F.

  3. I have to second Greg Drey. I have worked for two Abercrombie stores (Hollister and Gilly Hicks) and while the dress code is silly and some of the people who shop there are terrible, you can get decent quality clothes at decent prices if you don’t buy them unless they are on sale. Do I want to support Mike Jeffries? Not particularly. But do I want jeans to save money on clothing that lasts and fits me well? Absolutely. I’m broke. I’m in graduate school and a teacher, so perpetually searching for casual clothes that look nice. When I can get a nice sweater for 10 dollars, I’m going to do that.

    I think this article has an outdated view, for the most part, on Abercrombie. Yeah, the CEO is a jackass – few CEOs aren’t. His marketing policy and hiring policies are discriminatory (but what people don’t realize is the people who don’t look as good are all working in the back room and having more fun than the people working with the customers anyway.) In terms of shopping there, you can get plain colored clothes for decent prices due to how much they have to discount things to even sell them anymore. The high prices are only affecting you if you are an idiot (which many people that shop there are). I’m a person who likes plain and simple things. They have a lot of that sort of stuff, especially around the winter time. Do I hate that I have to buy things in the large size so that they don’t cling to me like a second skin? Yeah – I’m a small person and I shouldn’t have to. But they’re cheaper than I can get them anywhere else for that quality, they last, and the colors are usually nice.

    If you don’t want to support them because of their discrimination, then don’t. But realize that Abercrombie is not the only culprit. They are just the most vocal culprit. Do teenage brats shop there? Yes. But so do people who are looking for something plain, good quality, and reasonably priced. Because contrary to popular belief, yes, they do sell things without writing on them. The majority of the store, in fact.

    I don’t love the company, but had a great experience working there because the managers are usually low key, really friendly people. I have no issue with people insulting Jeffries, because he deserves it. But leave the individual stores and managers who are just trying to do their jobs out of it. Most of them are great people.

  4. I am very proud to say that I have literally never set foot in an A&F. Mike Jeffries couldn’t pay me enough to set foot into that cesspool.

  5. I was shocked shocked when I learned Katharine Hepburn used to shop at A&F, but then I realized that was back in the day when they only sold farm clothes and outdoorsy stuff like LLBean and Lands End. Hepburn only ever wore dungarees really. That makes more sense.

  6. I worked for A&F for a couple of years, too. I don’t agree with a lot of their sentiments and was never a an of Jeffries, but at the time, it was slim pickings for jobs fresh out of college. Jeffries does not fit the image he wants for his stores, however, I think that you have to give some credit to a company so willing to stand on their image. It worked for many years, and maybe that time has passed.

    The no black thing is not a new policy. Associates have never been able to wear it as it is not sold in the store (as Greg stated previously). The moose logo is something held-over from the origins of A&F as a camping gear store.

    I decided that I could no longer tolerate working there when I was belittled by 3 home office associates for hiring a guy who wasn’t “cool enough.” When in reality, that guy was my pride and joy as an employee.

    I don’t really know about the thong issue, I wasn’t an employee at that time. But most people don’t realize that Abercrombie & Fitch is intended for people 18-14 years old, NOT for middle schoolers. abercrombie is the children’s store.

    As I said before, I don’t agree with a lot of sentiments but you have to respect their confidence in maintaining their image. The biggest thing you can do to combat that image, is NOT SHOP THERE. And stop talking about the brand. They don’t advertise and rely on word of mouth, so they welcome controversy so they can stay in the forefront of people’s minds.

  7. I worked at A&F for eight years and like many of you, I don’t agree with much of what Mike Jefferies thinks and has to say, but here’s the deal they’re allowed to sell whatever they want. I don’t complain that retailers like Lane Bryant don’t cater to smaller figures or that Victoria’s Secret doesn’t carry men’s clothing. Whatever the logic, he wants his brand to be a “specialty retailer.” (Again, I absolutely do not agree with the fact that there’s some kind of bullying going on here.)

    • We don’t sell black, so associates can’t wear black. Reason being, black is considered to be more formal and MJ wants A&F to be strictly casual.

    • With all of the ridiculous promotions they run in an effort to save the store, you can get tees cheaper here than at Target. I got a pair of those $220 jeans for $10! They’ve been through hell, but still in great shape because of the quality.

    • Attractive people can be smart. Unattractive people can be dumb. That’s really just a senseless argument.

    • The name is so long because of the original owners David Abercrombie and his partner Ezra Fitch, who founded the company when it was a hunting & sporting goods and outdoor apparel retailer in the late 1800′s. It’s very frequently shorthanded as A&F, AF or ANF. And the reason it’s a moose is because hunting and the Adirondack Mountains served as inspiration when the brand was revamped to become a teen clothing retailer in the early 1990′s.

    Now all of you can hate me for feeling the need to elaborate and educate.

    • *Snap* *Snap* *Snap*

      All great, factual points. I see nothing wrong with targeting markets… that is how sales work. But, Jeffries should probably learn to keep his mouth shut or learn how to share his brand’s mission more eloquently.

  8. thank god I’m not the only one who doesn’t swoon but rather barf at the sight of their provocative pictures and cheap attempts to lure customers into their stores. went into a hollister shop once, never again! the horrible perfume gave me a headache, there were plants in the way all over the place, the lights were so dimmed you could barely see the clothes, and the shopkeeper was too busy being admired (skinny, tan, arrogant as hell – just your average A&F guy) by the googly-eyed giggly girls in the store to actually do his job. big URGH

  9. half the commenters on this need to calm down. I get your vibe, Tyler. I don’t think you have ruined your credibility. This article made me cringe, frown AND laugh. Trifecta!

  10. Great issues altogether, you just won a new reader. What may you recommend in regards to your publish that you simply made a few days ago? Any sure?

  11. I agree that the anti fat/ugly campaign is wrong, but I do not understand why people are only upset with A&F. They may be the only company to have their CEO flat out say that they are trying to target pretty people, but they are not the only ones. Most the similar stores do the same thing. Holister also only hires “attractive” people. You have to have a certain look to work there. If you are going to attack or boycott A&F, you will need to do the same to half of the stores out there.

  12. I completely agree with this. When my friend told me about the whole “No Ugly/Fat” campaign they had started, I was shocked. I was even more shocked, though, when she showed me a picture of the CEO who started all of this nonsense. I mean, come one man, really?

  13. Every time my boyfriend drags me to this terrible store I fee like i’m in the jungle or on safari…Its way to dark in there and I’m positive I’ll die of cologne asphyxiation if I stay there to long. But seriously I don’t understand how the CEO looks like a troll but says he only wants “attractive people” coming to his store. What?!? the key demographic (teens) have enough body issues and this elitist vain culture is only contributing to the the shallow tweens were encountering now.

  14. This is a poor article.
    2) There is nothing wrong with a store wanting its employees not to wear black. If it is wrong then you can bash every other retail and/or fast food restaurant for having a uniform or dress code.
    3) “(Not based on a true story, but it could have been.)” No. As people have already stated in these comments, it takes away the credibility of the article. In point #2 that I wrote about above you started talking about zebras and penguins. You’re complaining about things that are irrelevant while being irrelevant.
    4) Every store has a target audience. We already know from point 1 that this company and its CEO are superficial.
    5) So is Chanel, Micheal Kors, Lululemon and about a hundred other stores/clothing companies.
    6) It has good-looking people in it, what do you expect.
    7) Don’t fight against discriminating ugly people then discriminate against an ugly person. This is not hurting Mike Jeffries, he’s not reading this article. You’re just making yourself look superficial as well.
    8, 9, 10) I’m still looking for all 10 of the ways abercrombie has gone too far and its decor, logo and name are none of them.
    I don’t support A&F’s marketing nor it’s arrogant (understatement) CEO, but there are so many great points you can make and you only made two that actually backed up how this company has gone too far. This was a contradicting, terrible article and I only take away from it information that was circulated umpteen times before it.

  15. A few things not mentioned here is that A&F is a really old store (1892 was when it opened) that originally sold safari gear so that’s where the jungle theming the the moose came from. That also explains the name, it was started by two people named Abercombie and Fitch in NYC. While the current store has really nothing to do with the original founders, it was bought and sold until it was eventually owned by Limited brands. The reason for the no black policy is that was part of the Limited stipulation for the split., that they could never sell black or purple. Not defending how ridiculous the store is, just dropping some knowledge since the article is rather uninformed.

    • The store should go back to its roots, lol… I guess that would be more of an Eddie Bauer appeal. Oh god I hate this store with EVERY fibber of my being. Second thought, if enough people had enough sense this company would have gone bankrupt when the recession hit. If people are going to spend so much on clothing at least buy something good!!!!!!!!! Oh, I can’t talk sense into people. My work here is done. Peace. Anyone reading this that likes A & F, I’m sorry. Below, thanks for the history lesson.

  16. Hey, does anyone remember “Summer Girls” by LFO. Somewhere at the beginning of the song:
    “…I like girls that wear A&F…”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeL7h2cYDRo
    you’re welcome….

    • I remember the song, but they don’t abbreviate they say abercrombie & fitch – just thought I’d point it out since the shortening of the name was something addressed in the article

  17. It’s a crying shame that the most plain, uninspired clothing can be sold for an exorbitant amount solely due to a brand name’s status. Peel back those eyelids, people! A generic t-shirt with a logo slapped onto the front it. That’s an appealing picture. I really think A and F should be PAYING US to billboard their clothing.

  18. Plus their apology from the racist T-Shirt fiasco contained this, “We never single out any one group to poke fun at. We poke fun at everybody, from women to flight attendants to baggage handlers, to football coaches, to Irish Americans to snow skiers. There’s really no group we haven’t teased.”

    So they have poked fun at ALL THE WOMEN IN THE WORLD and then the Irish and also many occupations and hobbies? WTF.

  19. i agree with your point, but this article is written so poorly that i’m unliking this page. if you’re going to put something in quotes, you can’t make up part of the quote as a joke and not clearly state which part of the quote is made up. Same with “And that’s exactly what he did. (Not based on a true story, but it could have been.) ” Even if it’s a joke-y article (which apparently it’s not since this is a very big deal to the author), posting like this takes away all your credibility.

  20. A&F’s clothing logic:
    Shirt= $10
    Logo= $40
    Shirt+Logo= $70

    ……what…..