Anyone else remember that terrible, 1-hit wonder?
Ten years ago, I entered my first Abercrombie & Fitch store. Boy, was I excited! Growing up on the east coast of Canada, I’d been a bit sheltered in the world of clothing retail (which in the grand scheme of things was probably for the best). There were slim pickings at our 15-store mall. When I got to university, A&F was seemingly the apparel of choice for the first year students on campus who grew up in bigger cities, and I wanted in on all of these “cool clothes”, too. $100 and 2 poorly-made shirts later, I made my way out of Abercrombie’s darkened cave, trying to regain function of my respiratory system after the bombardment of nasty
fumes perfume. Ironically, I felt more empty handed than before I’d swiped my credit card.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good shopping spree. However, I remember feeling weird about these purchases, almost a little sick inside. I didn’t even like the shirts that much. I just wanted to know what it felt like to walk around sporting that A&F logo, feeling like I fit in with everyone else. Yet, I didn’t feel any different. It didn’t make me feel happier.
I haven’t been in that store since.
This memory was triggered today when I came across an article
that’s circulating social media outlets concerning the alleged comments by the A&F CEO, Mike Jeffries. Jeffries has been known to make controversial statements regarding his company’s clothing, including this 2006 doozie:
The article goes on to quote a variety of other ridiculous things uttered aloud by the 61 year old CEO. I couldn’t be bothered reading too much more. After a brief skim, you get the point: A&F targets skinny, youthful, good looking people. The “in crowd”. Oh, you’re a size 12? Sorry. You’re not allowed in.
I would like to hear the guy make one of these statement on video. However, I don’t doubt the accusations for a moment. When a store that is in the same league as H&M, American Eagle, Forever 21, or the Gap only provides clothing for women up to size 10, then that pretty much says it all.
What interests me the most about this is how people are reacting to the comments. It’s refreshing to see backlash, even from people who actually do “fit” into the targeted consumer category.
Then we have H&M who received plenty of grief over these mannequins in Sweden:
People say the most proximal mannequin is promoting obesity, showing off her scantily clad size 12 figure. Personally, I think these mannequins probably look like most of the people shopping in the store. Also refreshing.
This whole weight/size/clothing industry topic really gets people fired up. From a psychological and sociological standpoint, I find it all so interesting. I was reading an article
on the Elle magazine website in which a researcher interviewed 2500 women, showing them photos of various women of all different sizes, wearing this DVF dress:
The findings were interesting:
“[The] study found that women increased their purchase intentions by more than 200 percent when the models in the mock ads were their size. In the subgroup over size 6, women increased their purchase intentions by a dramatic 300 percent when they saw curvier models. Conversely, when women saw models who didn’t reflect their size, they decreased their purchase intentions by 60 percent, and women over size 6 dropped their purchase intentions by 76 percent.” (source)
Based on this ideology, Abercrombie & Fitch better rethink their marketing strategies if they want to be in business for the long haul. I’m not a size 0, nor am I 18 years old. Yet even if I was, I sure wouldn’t want to be spending my hard earned babysitting money knowing that the company holds such shallow standards. As a parent, I wouldn’t want to support a company that I knew promoted unhealthy and bully-ish ideologies. All I know is that my children will be wearing paper bags before I buy them Abercrombie & Fitch clothing. If the store lives to see another decade, that is.
Do you ever feel irritated by the marketing campaigns of mainstream fashion labels?
Are there any clothing stores that you think genuinely promote healthy living and body image?