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

LizB on

This is for Jennifer. Healthy lifestyles? I’m a vegetarian, I eat pretty well, have an active job and usually walk an hour to two hours a day. The only time I was under a size 10 was when I was starving myself and making myself throw up. Is that healthier than what I am doing now? Being over a size 10 does not equal unhealthy, especially if you are tall, muscular, or have large breasts. Maybe before you condemn people for being unhealthy at sizes over 10, research generics, body types, and how the media has blown the “obesity epidemic” way out of proportion.

Wicked14817 on

Well, if there were a store that catered to only the” beautiful people”, he would be kicked out on his a*s before he even got within 500 feet of the entrance! OMG!!! The cool kids thing is what really got to me more so than the actual size thing! Because there are a lot of specialty stores and that’s ok; isn’t there are 5/7/9 shop? I mean I’m 53, am I not allowed to shop in FOREVER 21? BUT, who determines what is cool? Does he? Is thin automatically cool? The whole thing is really disturbing and in this day and age when parents, teachers, etc. are so desperately trying to rid the world of bullying, we don’t need this type of message ““In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” adding fuel to the fire!

Ava Hill on

I have never been there and never will. Too expensive to pay for too little clothes. From what I have seen only well to do white girls are wearing it anyway.

Sharese on

There’s a difference between advocating a healthier lifestyle and discrimination. This is bullying on a corporate scale. They also refuse to donate clothing irregular or not to the homeless for image sake. #FitchtheHomeless This comment is for Jennifer The Situation is a fit person, obviously. What’s your excuse for them discriminating against him?

kim on

Jennifer I am size 9 waist BUT a Kim K booty that puts me in a 12 I require a XL or larger to bc I have a size F bust because of this ppl like me can’t shop there dose that make me NOT COOL if so then you ma’am are a very bad person

Nicole on

So what?….and no big secret. Point aside, they are over priced ….

Kent on

I am completely in disagreement with the CEO’s statement. And the fact is, even IF A&F goes up to a size 10 (which I am a true size 10) I cannot wear their clothes! Therefore, I will not be giving the business any of my money!

Really? on

Really? AF is target marketing just like other manufacturers do. Everything in todays world is discriminatory and there is always someone offended blah! blah! blah! If you disagree don’t go there and make purchases. This type of “Cause” is really getting old. If you are too fat to wear their clothes go somehwere else!

Marlene Heyning on

Personally, I think the boycott is a good thing. And what’s so wrong about making clothes sizes up to an XL? The brand isn’t that great, the clothes are actually really badly made (they get holes in them after about a day), and they just aren’t all they are hyped up to be.

reese on

I don’t necessarily agree with A&F in their practices but people, chill out. They have every right to make the clothes they want to make. Not everyone is meant to shop at every store. While their comments regarding “cool” kids and “not-so-cool” kids do not promote anything healthy and it may actually promote anorexia, I frankly think there the number of obese people in America is getting out of control. I doubt anyone who is obese or overweight will try to lose weight because they can’t fit into A&F clothing but even if ONE does try, they’ve done a service to America.

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