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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jimi on

I think this boycott is a good thing, and should serve as a wake up call to all the so called elite, and let them know that way of thinking is dated and harmfull not only to those who are excluded and ostracized, but also to those who endorse this way of thinking.

Jennifer on

In this ever increasing world of obese and fast foodies that irresponsibly gorge on McDonalds…I like the fact that Abercrombie is taking a stand to promote people with healthy lifestyles. It is what it is. I don’t go into Lane Bryant asking for a size 1…so why should an obese person go into Abercrombie asking for a size 24. There is a market and a retailer to fit everyone’s clothing needs. Be happy with who you are and the decisions you made to get there.

bg on

This comment is for Jennifer. While I agree a size 1 would not go into lane bryant I dont think its unreasonable for them to make clothes up to a size 16 or XL. There are people that wear those sizes and are not obese. They are just discriminating against what they think the size people should be. I agree with the boycotts 100%

kmagers on

This is one reason that more and more public schools have gone to a uniform policy. This just fuels bullying. Now that I have lost all the weight that I need to and am more fit, I’m already a “cool kid”. I see no need to ever darken their doors,

Liz on

I don’t wear Abercrombie and I don’t think the clothes are anything to rave about. Personally, the brand isn’t that great. It’s simple basic clothes with a big Abercrombie label on it. That’s all anyone is paying for. I’d rather spend my money on clothes without the label that’s great quality and a little extra on statment pieces. It’s up to a companies policy to decide whether or not they want to make bigger sizes. For him to voice the opinion of only “the cool people” should wear it is bad business. He should of just kept his mouth shut. For those larger people there are plenty of other labels out there that are far better than abercrombie you can wear. Hudson jeans, true religion, paige jeans, etc all of these companies cater to both smaller and larger sizes. Screw Abercrombie, and let him go under for voicing his discrimanatory opinions.

Beautiful Gypsy on

Whether A&F carries larger sizes is not the issue. Many store practice exclusionary marketing. However, when that exclusionary marketing is aimed at ONE particular group stating that they are the uncool and unpopular people with no friends is offensive and completely untrue. It is not that A&F doesn’t carry ANY clothing over a large, they certainly carry MEN’S clothing up to an XXL…therefore their aim is to solely exclude what A&F CEO deems the most unattractive and unwanted people…overweight (by his standards) women. That is blatant discrimination…NOT exclusionary marketing (otherwise men’s clothing over a size large would not exist at A&F either). I will never shop at a store owned or affiliated by A&F ever again for myself OR my beautiful, popular all-American daughter. It’s an embarrassment to be seen with their branding.

Elle on

Jennifer, I am a size 8 in any other store, but I can not fit into a size 10 at Abercrombie. I am not obese, I am an athlete and thus have leg muscle. I can not fit into their shirts because I am a 36D and the large only goes down to my belly button. I work out every day. So, your comment isn’t necessarily valid, and I know a lot of athletes who will agree with me.

mf on

If a company wants to target only certain consumers it is their decision, they are only trying to maintain their image. Its like a sports store only selling athletic wear or a dress boutique only selling dresses. Also, for any job you have to have certain skills, qualities etc if you don’t have them you don’t get the job a&f just happens to want slender good looking employees. If a&f doesn’t want to sell you clothes too bad they are the ones loosing your money. The big issue here is not a&f refusing to sell plus size clothes but instead the fact that 67% percent of shoppers are overweight. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about our well being rather wanting companies to accommodate to our weight gain? What has the world come too? The solution is not making bigger clothes but instead advocating for healthier lifestyles! I am sure a&f is not the only company who does this, they just happen to be more public about it.

Tallmiss on

I am a good size 12-14 on the bottom, and 8-10 on top. I go to Lane Bryant, and the size 14’s are huge on me. I go to Abercrombie, and things are indecently tiny. I used to love that brand, but it is ridiculous!

lyndsey on

This comment is for Jennifer: I don’t think anyone is expecting them to carry different sizes – I think it comes down to the “cool” and “not so cool” comments. There are plenty of “cool” people who are overweight, and there area plenty of “not so cool” people who are withing their sizing goals. Who are they to say who is meant to wear their clothes, if they fit in them and they want to wear them? I just hope that you don’t have a daughter later in life and, heaven forbid, she is one of the “not so cool” kids who have to deal with egotistical bastards like this.

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