Mike Jeffries, controversial CEO of the popular retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, wants women to know that the A&F brand loves them. As long as they’re skinny women, that is.
Jeffries’ plan to cultivate a brand he considers ‘cool’ has resulted in some famously controversial policies, such as hiring young, good-looking salespeople. His latest idea to add cool factor to the popular casual-clothing chain? Eschewing large clothing for women.
Critics have lambasted Jeffries for fat-shaming his customer base, as well as for the ick factor of the company offering large clothing options for men, but not for ladies (because men can be athletic and large without being fat, of course).
The largest size A&F carries for women is size 10, and they do not carry XL. By the way, the average size of a woman in the U.S. is a size 14, but A&F isn’t bothering with those average ladies. It only wants the cool ones!
Jeffries told Salon magazine in 2006, “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.”
A visit to the retailer will definitely underscore this exclusionary marketing strategy. Most of the sizes displayed for women are double-zeros and extra-smalls, with a couple of large tops and size 10 pants. A&F does actually carry XL or XXL, but just for athletic ‘bros’ who are super cool.
With plus-size shoppers now making up 67 percent of U.S. consumers, it will be interesting to see if the retailer keeps up with the too-cool-for-you attitude, or decides to be more competitive. From Dove’s Real Beauty campaign celebrating heavier women, to H&M’s inclusion of plus-size swimsuit model Jennie Runk, many other brands are making their clothes more accessible to a, shall we say wider, range of folks.