Photo Credit: Hannes Magerstaedt/Stringer/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Even as more and more clothing manufacturers start to make clothing in plus sizes or, as I like to call them, sizes, Abercrombie and Fitch is proudly bucking the trend. It’s not just plus sizes either, A&F women’s pants only go up to a size 10. If you’re a man you can get up to an XXL -- as to not ostracize football dudes and wrestlers.
CEO Mike Jeffries explained it all in a 2006 interview with Salon, “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. 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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”"
The interview was a while ago but Abercrombie’s plus-size attitude problem has been back in the spotlight recently thanks to a Business Insider article and the company is refusing to comment on, let alone change, their sizing policy.
A&F is promoting the idea that being cool and being fat are mutually exclusive by making sure that, if their clothes are what’s cool, then fat kids can’t have them. In a time when appearance-based bullying is the most common kind, and eating disorder rates among kids have exploded, A&F wants you to know that if you are a woman above a size 10, you “can’t belong”. Keep it classy A&F. Obviously every thin kid isn’t popular -- one wonders who else they would keep out of their clothes if they could find a way.
Jeffries continues, “That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people.” Way to discriminate in your hiring practices! They don’t expect a backlash from their customers because they expect them to be okay with this. I imagine that in some business plan document somewhere they have an ideal client statement that reads: “Our ideal client is a person who meets the cultural stereotype of beauty and believes that to feel good about themselves, they should keep other people down. We are looking for thin people who adamantly believe that fat people shouldn’t have the same things that they do!”
Even as more and more retailers make clothing for a wider range of sizes, there are some questionable policies. Old Navy has a plus-size line but you can only buy the clothes online and you can only return them online, straight-sized clothes can be purchased online and returned to the store. So it sounds to me like they want my fat money, but they don’t want my fat ass in the store. They’re not getting either.
At least A&F is being upfront rather than hiding behind the idea that it’s just too difficult to make clothes past an arbitrary stop point. Enough already.