It’s always interesting when you get insight into the minds of marketers.
This interview with Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO is no different:
Abercrombie’s attitude towards plus-sized women derives from CEO Mike Jeffries. Robin Lewis, author of The New Rules of Retail, spoke to Business Insider about the kind of people Jeffries wants advertising his brand.
“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
Lewis said that the only reason Abercrombie offers XL and XXL in men’s sizes is to appeal to large athletes.
In a 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries confirmed that the communication between hot people is his primary marketing tactic.
“It’s almost everything. 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. We don’t market to anyone other than that,” he said.
Jeffries also told Salon that he wasn’t bothered by excluding fat people. In fact, he said that not limiting his ideal demographic would make his clothing less desirable.
“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,” he told Salon.
One might wonder why Mike Jeffries only wants to be in the company of good-looking people. That curiosity will end after seeing what this freak looks like. [source]
A few things:
1) Male athletes are allowed to be XLs and XXLs. Female athletes, however, should be rail thin. And, allow me to remind you of what an athlete looks like. (Hint: it looks like a lot of things.)
2) Marketing perpetuates stigmas and stereotypes that we engage in on a daily basis, but on a daily basis we embrace stigmas and stereotypes that we see in marketing. That’s why the only time you see a Black woman in a commercial – certainly not in an Abercrombie ad, because even with that $1 trillion in that collective wallet, y’all aren’t buying Abercrombie – is if she’s selling you chicken, pancakes, or scrubbing your floors. It not only perpetuates the centuries-old belief that Black women are only “present” in positions of servitude, but it reinforces it.
Why am I saying all that? This:
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.
Attractive, all-American kid. Who’s that?
Pardon me while I search Google for “Abercrombie ads.”
3) There’s also the matter of this:
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. We don’t market to anyone other than that […]
Look at that spread of ad images. Look at it. This is a major corporation’s idea of what looks good. What do you see?
Listen. People always wonder why I, as a weight-loss blogger, someone who blogs about losing weight, would take such an affront to fat-shaming. If anything, it should make me happy that I can now shame people for being fat!
I take aim at fat-shaming because it is low-hanging fruit in the overall battle for people to embrace the idea that yes, people can be “different” and still be appealing, attractive, valuable, and a positive contribution to society outside of frying their damn chicken and scrubbing their floors. Differences exist, and it is okay to find “different” appealing and attractive… whether “different” be different skin colors, different body builds, different hair, different heights.. whatever. Adults are creating this marketing, and are teaching teenagers a thing or two about what it takes to be “attractive.” Uh… huh.
4) “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing.”
His customers should feel like shopping there makes them feel like they’re one of the cool kids. He facilitates this by ensuring that no fatty fat fat fatties can shop there. And, of course, starting at size 12 is where you can be safely considered a fatty fat fat, and shouldn’t enter the doors.
How is this not spectacularly disgusting?
Look. I don’t know if this is a call for moral or responsible marketing, or what. All I can do is register my nausea, and wonder out loud, how many more companies are going to cop to this?