If you haven't caught the news by now, a Web search for "Abercrombie" may be a good idea. Jeffries' slip of tongue has been making headlines and feeling the backlash – so much so that it's hard to know quite where to begin. Perhaps The Star-Ledger deeming him "Knucklehead of the Week" is a good kickoff.
The insensitive comments have protestors and boycotts headed to stores, but incredibly, the retailer's shares are still at a 52 week high (if you haven't already, now may be the time to sell before sales take a hit). Recent news reports show that Abercrombie stores don't carry XL or XXL sizes for women or women's pant sizes over 10. To put this in perspective, the average pant size for an American woman is a 14 and plus size shoppers make up 67% of United States consumers.
The Viral Explosion
Benjamin O'Keefe of Orlando, FL began a petition on Change.org to stop telling teens they aren't beautiful and make clothes for teens of all sizes. The petition currently has 66,419 supporters and needs another 8,581 to meet its goal.
Jeffries statements have gone viral, making waves in the news – including Glamour and People. A personal favorite, Buzzfeed even jumped on the bandwagon with a hilarious meme titled, "The Internet Hates Mike Jeffries, The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch", calling Jeffries "a hypocrite for not living up to the intense beauty standards of his company."
In an ET Exclusive, Kirstie Alley explicitly slammed the CEO noting her kids will never step foot in an Abercrombie store. The actress also took to Tweeted, "Dear CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch…you are not cute and your head is HUGE. You need to stop wearing A&F clothing…just not attractive enough."
"Oh Fitch please," remarked Ellen DeGeneres on a recent show where she shared her take on the ridiculous comments, while making jest at the retailer's small sizes.
Small sizes aren't stopping bloggers from taking to the Web either, one recently shared her recreation of the popular topless A&F ads, adding the tagline "Attractive & Fat," along with an open letter to the CEO that informs Jeffries a size large T-shirt from his store comfortably fit her size 22 frame. Some have even written letters to Jeffries, "Dear Abercrombie CEO: The Kids Who Bullied Me Wore Your Clothing" is the title of one posted on Business Insider.
And then there's the "Fitch the Homeless" campaign, started by LA-based writer Greg Karber in an attempt to rebrand Abercrombie & Fitch by donating the company's clothes to the homeless.
So what does Jeffries have to say about all this? Wednesday, on their Facebook page, the retailer posted "A note from Mike, our CEO:
I want to address some of my comments that have been circulating from a 2006 interview. While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics."
Frankly, as noted by a Forbes article, this apology isn't quite an apology. Jeffries has said too little, too late. "In these circumstances, often the public can be quite forgiving, if the apology rings true, the organization faces the music, and takes its medicine," writes Davia Temin of Forbes.com. "But with an apology like Abercrombie & Fitch's half-baked one – the public anger is only going to be stoked."
It seems the saga has only just begun for Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries, but the Star-Ledger seems to have said it best: "Jeffries’ schoolyard snobbery is knucklehead gold — even if it took years for karma to come around."
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