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

kathy harshman on

This guy should be fired. With all the bullying in schools, this is exactly what causes it. Who says “cool kids” are only thin? Great way to lower self esteem in kids. Parents should not allow their children to wear these clothes.

Rebecca on

This article hits home, extremely close in fact. I was never “pretty” in school, I never “fitted” in, and from this, Now I feel unworthy and unwanted. Who gave the right to a man to tell us THE WOMEN, what we should look like? Not only do I feel like an item out of place when I walk into the store on rare occasions, I get looks from the employees like the ground I walk on is dirt and they float god-like in the air. I am 5 ft 6, I weigh 148 lbs, I play tennis, I am active.. but you know what, I have been dieting my whole life. I even contracted a mild eating disorder. I just want to say this to the CEO, “Because of you, I feel like a social outcast. Sure my body is round, but I have curves and muscle. I can’t see my ribs, and you know what? You shouldn’t. So please let me edify you; morally speaking. Hasn’t your mother taught you the first rule to anything? Is RESPECT not something you practice. How dare you tell me what I should like, and how I should dress. Sorry I am not a skeleton and eat once a week. You’re not promoting anything but to whither away my body at your expense. Sir, you are the optima of the man who is self-centered, and extremely prejudice.”

Katie (kat) on

There are plenty of unhealthy thin people and perfectly healthy overweight people. Stop judging others based on what they look like and being ignorant. Weight is something everyone can see but what about all those character flaws that are invisible to the naked eye like being shallow and unkind? I wish we could have a store where things aren’t sold to jerks!

Lauren on

Abercrombie & Fitch is cool? Since when?

When I was in high school, their clothes were for all the kids who has sticks up their @ s s e s.

Bella on

Jennifer do you think that everyone that is obese irrsponsibly gorges on fast food?! I would be considered as obese and I do not even eat fast food. I would bet money that even with being size 24 my diet and my exercise level is probably alot better and more heathey then your size 1. I have a brain tumor that makes me every sick and that causes me to gain weight and not be able to lose it. My point is do not judge people when you know nothing about them

Anna on

I thought this was America where everything is supposed to be equal. It is people like this who cause our young people to have low or no self esteem. I honestly think that they should be charged a fine or be closed down anyone who agrees with the CEO is a damn fool and should have their ass kicked. I am so tired of people thinking they are better than everyone else. I have never in my life seen such a foolish group of people may God have mercy on their souls and I will be praying for them.

Chive On on

Considering he said this back in 2006, I think we are all a little late to the complaining game. We allow stores and companies like Hooters and Big&Tall to exist and don’t jump on them for being exclusionary, how is this any different?

Elizabeth on

People come in all different shapes and sizes. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. Get over yourself you dumb CEO. Go spray some perfume on clothes and be quiet. Everyone has their Target market. But you don’t need to say that you don’t like fat people wearing your clothes. Lane Bryant caters to plus sizes and they don’t do interviews saying that they don’t want skinny people walking into their stores.

Zeze on

Have you seen the way this creep looks? It makes his interest in “cool high school kids” all the more disturbing.

Willie on

Why boycott? If they do not want to make any size, the company has the right to do that and should not bow to people telling them how to run their company. By the way, I am clinically obese.

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