Backlash Against Abercrombie & Fitch's Anti-Plus Size Policies Reaches a Fever Pitch

05/15/2013 at 10:44 AM ET

The Situation AbercrombieSplash News Online

Back in 2011, when Abercrombie & Fitch offered to pay Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino to stop wearing their clothes so he wouldn’t tarnish the brand, it seemed like a funny, publicity-seeking joke. But as it turns out, it was actually a bigger part of the company’s retail strategy.

A recent book, The New Rules of Retail, draws attention to the company’s discriminatory clothing policies (specifically that they won’t carry sizes above a 10 or L) — which are in line with prejudiced hiring policies for which the company has come under fire before.

And in a 2006 Salon article, CEO Mike Jeffries defended the company. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he said in the interview. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids … A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Since that interview has picked up traction, Abercrombie & Fitch has been taking a beating in the press, facing customer boycotts — even in Hollywood. Kirstie Alley took on the store, telling Entertainment Tonight, “I’ve got two kids in that [age] bracket that will never walk in those doors because of his views on people.” A popular YouTube post shows a man giving out Abercrombie’s clothes to homeless people in an effort to “rebrand” the logo.

Abercrombie & Fitch hasn’t commented on the controversy, but there’s no shortage of people willing to discuss the situation and whether it leads to bullying. Tell us: What do you think of the store’s policies? What about the boycotts?

–Alex Apatoff

FILED UNDER: Fashion , Shopping
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Showing 548 comments

Kat on

Just to clarify my comment, AF has a long history of discrimination… Race, Age and Disability. Just add body-type to the list. I love the freedoms we have in this country. AF is free to market this way and we are free to boycott. However, this marketing is not very smart and will only appeal to the young, immature and those with very little life experience.

andy on

While not my favorite place to shop it is one of few places that my skinny, long legged teen can have a pair of jeans that fit. My other teen daughter can not fit into their clothes because she is muscular in the legs and they wont fit over her thighs. If you dont care for their policies then simply take your business elsewhere

Stefanie on

I think that a size or number does not define who you are at all! No company has business telling anyone that!!

emelinesmom on

Do they discriminate against obese “uncool” sweat shop workers as well?

AmyinOaktown on

There is such a thing as BAD PR…sorry, but A&F practices are ridiculous. His comments are totally outrageous- …hoping there is a HUGE backlash against him personally – “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Dana on

There are lots of brands that do not carry anything over an Large or sz 10. Hollister is one also. There is a whole woman’s store called 5-7-9 that carries nothing over a sz 9. But the problem here is his mouth and arrogance and his insinuation that only people of a certain size are popular or cool. Especially considering he looks like NY’s Cat Woman’s twin brother. Just say no to the plastic surgery Jeffries! Its not helping.

Kim on

Jennifer…I think you’re missing the point, and even worse you are giving A&K and its d-bag CEO credit where no credit is due. They are not “promoting a healthy lifestyle” they are saying that they’re the “cool kids” and anyone who doesn’t fit into a size 10 or under is not worthy of wearing their tacky clothing. Mike Jeffries is one of example of everything that is wrong in this world where there is an epidemic of teenagers who take their own lives because they feel they are not good enough or because they don’t “fit in.” To say that it’s okay to descriminate against someone who is not a size 10 only perpetuates the negativity these kids already experience on a daily basis.

cloudninegirl on

I think this is a brand of hatred. People that wear Abercrombie & Fitch clothes are helping these hate-mongers stay in business. If someone is wearing this brand, to me they must think it’s “cool” to hate other people and pass judgement on them. I would not spend a penny at a thrift store for a piece of Abercrombie & Fitch garbage.

Bonnie on

Jennifer – Just because someone is thin, it doesn’t mean they are healthy. Most anorexics are thin, many crack addicts are thin, smokers can be thin, etc. A&F isn’t promoting people with healthy lifestyles….this is a promotion of excluding those who don’t fit into their idea of being cool. I have no problem with the company not carrying sizes larger than 10, I do, however, have a problem with the message they’re sending to the people, the children and teenagers in particular, who they see as “uncool.”

charmd1 on

Regardless of what size you are we should be way past this in this day and age. Marketing ploys only last so long and when revenue starts to tank of course they will come up with another marketing scheme. It is always a cycle that is never ending however a negative image will eventually cost them $$$ – The sad part is A & F Cares is on their own website and they don’t see the impact of just because you do good in one area you fall short of your own overall goal!

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