Abercrombie & Fitch: Controversy Over Who Business Caters To

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
May 9, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Abercrombie and Fitch controversy: Mike Jeffries, CEO of the clothing chain, doesn’t want fat people at his stores.

Co-author Robin Lewis told Business Insider that Jeffries doesn’t want “larger people” shopping in Abercrombie and Fitch; instead, “he wants thin and beautiful people.”

“He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing,” Lewis said. “People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.'” 

Abercrombie doesn’t have XL or XXL women’s clothing; it does have XL and XXL men’s sizes, but only for football players and wrestlers, said Lewis.

The book Lewis and Jeffries wrote, “The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace,” came out in December 2010.

 Jeffries himself told Salon about his views on business when he was 61, in 2006.

He said that the “emotional experience” he creates for customers of Abercrombie is important. 

“It’s almost everything,” he said. “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.”

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he continued. “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.”

Meanwhile, a document came to light last year outlined rules for actors and models that worked on Abercrombie and Fitch’s Gulfstream jet.

Among the rules: Coats could only be worn by the flight crew if the temperature fell to 50 degrees or lower, and flip-flops were mandatory in flight and when meeting passengers. Staff, when asked something by Jeffries or the people with him, were to say “No problem” instead of phrases such as “Sure” or “Just a minute.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.