A recent uproar surrounding the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, has captured a lot of media attention. Abercrombie & Fitch is a popular American retailer whose main focus is on consumers ages 18 to 22. Mike Jeffries is the 68 year old CEO who also owns 2.8% of the company. Salon, an online news site, interviewed Jeffries in 2006. In this interview, Jeffries commented on the customers A&F aims to draw into their stores, “We go after the cool kids. A lot of people don’t belong and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Another shocking comment came from Mr. Jeffries in another interview, this time in regards to A&F employees. Jeffries was quoted saying, “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.” Abercrombie & Fitch is also not selling XL or XXL sizes to women because Jeffries refuses to cater to women above a size 10. In response to Mike Jeffries’ statements, Los Angeles writer Greg Garber has launched a campaign to defame the Abercrombie brand and its closely guarded image. Garber has created a YouTube video titled “Abercrombie & Fitch Gets a Brand Readjustment” to explain the campaign and his reasons for launching it. The core of the campaign is to gather all thrifted and previously owned A&F clothing to hand out to the homeless. Many people took to social media to praise Greg Garber for the “Fitch the Homeless” campaign. A lot of people claimed to love the idea of getting back at A&F and Jeffries for “ignorant” comments and values. They seem to like the idea even more because it also proposes a chance to help those in need. On the other hand, several people were not fond of the “Fitch the Homeless” plan. Words such as “hypocritical” and “exploitative” were used to describe the campaign. Blogger Stacey Bias wrote, “The subjects of this video are not in on the joke. They’re not approached for consent. They’re not re-appropriating their own stigma in service of a statement they are making themselves.” A lot of accusations have been made by followers of this story that the campaign makes the homeless the butt of the joke rather than Mike Jeffries. Suggestions have been made through social media to take the clothing back to the stores instead of using the less fortunate as unaware props.
What’s your take on “Fitch the Homeless”? Are you pro giving Abercrombie clothing to the homeless? Or do you think there is another way to make a point?
Gaby Morin, JCI Fashion Student