The World According to Mike Jeffries
by Lucas Witherspoon
It’s no secret that over the years Abercrombie & Fitch and its CEO Mike Jeffries have been hit with an onslaught of criticism for not only their self-admitted “exclusionary” clientele practices and employee policies, but also for managing to offend everyone from Asians to Muslims to sick children to womens’ rights groups with their products and business model. Now, because of a new book, The New Rules of Retail by Robin Lewis, the company and Jeffries are once again finding themselves drawing heat.
In an interview promoting his book with Business Insider, Lewis made the assertion that Jeffries “doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.'” This isn’t at all off-base, given that in the past Jeffries has been blatant in his desire for alienation among the store’s core and the general population, saying, “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” and, “Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard.”
Frankly, I’m not particularly concerned with those statements, as they were obviously made to draw attention to a company whose stock prices, sales figures, and popularity has been lagging for practically a decade now. The sheer delusion is what’s annoying.
Mind you, these statements are coming from an adult male in his 60s (he’s presently 68), not to mention the fact he looks like this:
Though some clearly still adhere to this sort of social caste system based on generic “attractiveness” and financial wealth, a majority of us learn that actually making statements like Jeffries’ isn’t socially acceptable outside of high school or our freshman year of college at the latest, which ironically is also when most people become coherent to the fact that the Abercombie & Fitch brand is nothing more than cheaply made clothing being sold at an astronomical markup to people who still immaturely share in Jeffries’ imbecilic principles.
Abercrombie & Fitch used to be seen as a sort of dream company and lifestyle brand in the late 90s and early 2000s, experiencing enormous growth and drawing in hoards of investors. However, the conspicuous consumption that was popularized in those years has since fallen out of favor, leaving Abercrombie & Fitch still sticking to their outdated practices. This is a large part of Abercrombie & Fitch’s mélange: their delusions of grandeur and former successes have beguiled them into believing they’re the same brand they once were when that’s not at all the case. Their practice of refusing to sell above a certain size (they don’t sell above a size 10 or XL and XXL products to women) or weeding out customers deemed unworthy of wearing their clothing isn’t a new one among high-fashion brands, of which Abercrombie & Fitch is clearly not. They have average customers of average means who are usually of average size—a size 14. By comparison, rivals H&M and American Eagle sell up to size 16 and 18, respectively.
Notwithstanding, Abercrombie & Fitch are certainly free to continue with their antiquated model, and Mike Jeffries can continue to sit back and lavish in his enormous CEO compensation packages while paying paltry wages to the company’s retail employees, but the rest of us have moved on.