Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Targets Only ‘Thin & Beautiful’ People
Plus-size model Jennie Runk is the face of H&M's new line of beachwear
Mike Jeffries, the CEO of preppy clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch, makes no secret about the target demographic of his stores. He wants the customers thin and attractive – implying the overweight and unattractive should look to shop elsewhere.
While Jeffries has long been known to have an exclusionary vision for A&F’s marketing, a recent report by retail industry analyst Robin Lewis seems to confirm it. “[Jeffries] doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis told Business Insider. “[He] doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing, he added. “People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
Pants sizes for women are only available up to a size 10 at Abercrombie and Fitch, and there are no XL items sold for women. However, the men’s department has both XL and XXL sizes. The double standard is explained by Lewis as Jeffries belief that the larger sizes could be filled by young men with bulging biceps and ripped abs. “Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard,” said Lewis.
Back in 2006, the A&F’s controversial marketing strategy was put on the table in Jeffries own words with an interview with Salon. “We we hire good-looking people in our stores,” Jeffries said. “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 continued, “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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.”
Abercrombie & Fitch’s leading competitors, American Eagle & H&M have a more inclusionary marketing philosophy. They offer women’s pants sizes up to 16 and 18, respectively. Furthermore, H&M has hired plus-size model Jennie Runk as the face of their new beachwear collection
“We’re trying to create a movement for every woman to love and embrace her body no matter what kind of body she has,” Runk told StyleList in 2009. “So much of advertising and fashion portrays only one kind of body, and that’s super tall and super skinny. I think not only should there be more plus-sized models in fashion, there should also be more petite, pregnant, ethnic, etc. I think every woman should be represented equally—we’re all beautiful in our own ways.”