TRYING TOO HARD: Abercrombie & Fitch should be exclusive… but not elitist

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Courtesy photograph | Abercrombie & Fitch

Brand identity and reputation are two separate and very different components that make up a fashion company.

Abercrombie & Fitch is one company that caters to a very specific clientele: youthful, athletic, and “all-American.”

It, like many other apparel businesses, focuses on the look and spirit a lot of people aspire to possess.

However, with the resurrection of CEO Mike Jeffries’ commentary on heavier women in 2006, A&F’s reputation is in ruins.

“We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends,” said Jeffries in the Salon article. “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Exclusivity is always implied in fashion.

So the very act of announcing something as obvious as brand exclusivity is tactless, juvenile and elitist.

Jeffries has not only managed to pointlessly offend a great number of the human population, but he has also managed to make the supposedly “cool kids” feel dirty.

Despite his insensitive words, Jeffries is brave in the fact that he has openly expressed what most fashion devotees have hesitated to acknowledge, which is, the unspoken law that only tall, lean, and fair-skinned people can be beautiful.

A&F never was, and never will become an iconic brand, because its vision depends entirely on the box cutouts of the Barbie-sized cheerleader and the Adonis-like jock.

Thirty years from now, supposing it will last that long, A&F will still be selling the same mediocre designs it has for the past few decades – uncreative, uninteresting and outright ugly.

The company’s CEO has made it clear that A&F will remain uninfluenced by the realities of the times and in doing so, insult others for being bigger than its targeted customers.

While one may find it easy to point fingers at individuals such as Jeffries for being responsible for perpetuating the notion that women and men must look a certain way in order for them to join society; people should asked themselves, who are the real bullies?

If there is such a public outcry against Jeffries’ words, why is it so easy to take notice and zone in on the Calvin Klein model with perfectly chiseled abs? Can America honestly look away from Kate Upton and her bodacious curves over the girl next door?

Perhaps the reason fashion brands are so keen on representing only skinny girls and boys is that not enough people react to normal sized models.

The majority of these buyers are negligent towards equal representation. They will argue that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but how many actually fight to level the public spotlight?

In its 121 years – the company was founded June 4, 1892 – A&F has never put a plus size model in its advertisement campaigns.

Only now, has its snobbery been receiving media attention, because Jeffries said that he does not want heavier people to shop in his stores. Is America this dense and oblivious?

Whether one likes it or not, A&F is still in business because it feeds hungry and desperate sheep who find pleasure, even inspiration, in imitating another person’s fantasy.

Instead of concealing one’s low self-esteem by purchasing mediocre merchandise such as A&F, people should learn to appreciate themselves before opening their wallets.

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