Do you remember that viral statement made by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries who said “we only sell to the cool kids”? Do you remember the intense world of pain they received in the form of a backlash which heavily affected their sales? Yeah, we’re sure you do because everyone had an opinion on it!
Everyone from Ellen Degeneres, who spoke about it on her talk show, to plus size bloggers like Jes Baker who decided to do an A&F tongue-in-cheek parody shoot called “Attractive and Fat” knew that even though Jeffries originally made that idiotic statement back in 2006 when explaining his “business plan” to Salon magazine (he might wanna fire himself from writing business plans for A&F), this was not something he could just say and get away with.
Here’s a true testament to the power of the people, A&F’s sales declines rapidly after Jeffries’ words suddenly became viral again mid-2013. Not only that, but dear 60-something Michael (he obvs said that statement because he wanted to appear cool, not realizing he probably hadn’t taken his meds that morning) said they don’t make clothes for larger people, and essentially don’t want fuller figured women to step inside his stores.
“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.”
Well it looks like that bleach-dyed head of his has finally been screwed on tightly this time because the apparel company has done an about-face, and announced amid dismal sales, they are going to launch a plus size range starting spring 2014!
Let’s put it in financial terms, this is the 7th straight quarter where their sales have been declining according to analysts, and Abercrombie’s shares have lost 30% in 2013 alone.
The thing is, this brand doesn’t offer any clothing bigger than a large size. But now it has to compete with bigger brands such as H&M and Forever 21 who have recognized the need to offer more sizes to men and women to maintain steady sales.
Buyer beware, the company said in a press-release they will be increasing some of their prices mid-2014, in an effort to make up for lost sales. However we are more interested to see whether their new plus sizes will make a difference in whether people are attracted to the brand again or not.
Financial analysts say the 2013 holiday season will be tough for Abercrombie, there’s no doubt about that.
Benjamin O’Keefe, an awesome dude from Florida created a petition on Change.org 6 months ago which he eventually presented to A&F, and it was to force them to start making bigger sizes in their clothing. He himself suffered with an eating disorder growing up and realized the (in comes cases) lasting damage messages like Mike’s can do in young people. After the announcement by the brand to start manufacturing bigger sizes, O’Keefe told Stylecaster how thrilled he is with this victory.
“The reality of the situation is this, Mike Jeffries claimed to target the “all-American.” Well, the average all American woman is a size 14 and his clothing didn’t make it past a 10. In an ever changing market, especially like that of fashion, it’s important for companies to constantly be evolving to the ever changing consumer. If you can’t be innovative enough to make a pattern that’s larger than a size zero, then I don’t see any hope for you.”
“I wanted everyone to know that it’s not the size of your waist that defines your worth, but the size of your heart and the length of your ambition. I think we have succeeded in that,” he said. “…it makes no sense to not embrace a larger audience of people and a larger array of beauty.”
We applaud A&F for stepping up and changing their ways and wish them the best.