Plus Sizes Won't Save A&F From Douchebaggy Reputation
STORY BY Dana Ter
Published: December 10, 2013
On November 20, amidst plummeting sales, in a last ditch effort to save their brand, Abercrombie & Fitch announced that they would be introducing plus-sized clothing. They currently do not sell women’s clothing above a size 10 or a large. It’s no secret that A&F is infamous for its discriminatory attitude. In fact, they openly embrace and promote this high-handedness as an integral part of their brand’s identity.
Back in 2006, its CEO Mike Jeffries drew a barrage of criticism when he told Salon that he didn’t want “fat kids” wearing his clothes. “We go after the cool kids,” Jeffries proclaimed, “the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends.” Has he not heard of something called diversity? A&F sales have been on a downwards spiral since then. But will introducing plus sizes save its reputation? Absolutely not. And here’s why.
Firstly, the announcement doesn’t make much of a difference to me, since I’m really petite. I’m actually glad that A&F has sizes that fit me. But getting into the A&F store on Fifth Avenue is worse than trying to enter a nightclub in the Meatpacking District on a Saturday night. It’s an absolute nightmare, and yet people still line up to get into A&F just like they do outside the Gansevoort for instance.
Why? Because it’s all about perception. It’s the “I’m cool enough to get into this nightclub” mentality. That’s what A&F is trying to evoke. But these people standing in line do not exuberate coolness. They’re wannabes, douchebags. The real “cool kids” with “great attitudes,” to use Jeffries’ own words are those who rise above all of this pretentiousness.
Essentially, that’s the real message that A&F should be promoting – for customers to be comfortable in their own skin. I doubt that introducing a few plus-sized t-shirts will help. It’s merely a token gesture. The average woman in America is a size 14 (I can hear Jeffries gasping right now), so A&F has actually been catering to skinny people.
A&F needs a complete image overhaul. For instance, I’m curious to know if they will also be hiring plus-sized models to wear those plus-sized clothes. Earlier in May, a blogger called “Jes” launched her own campaign – which she called “Attractive & Fat” – against A&F by posting pictures of herself in A&F style photo shoots on her blog.
Props to Jes for feeling so comfortable in her own skin! As she mentioned, those pictures might make some people uncomfortable because we’re so used to seeing ads of skinny naked people. These days, people are not wired into believing that “bigger” is beautiful. And A&F is one of the biggest culprits in promoting this warped image of “beauty” and “coolness.” A&F needs to lose its attitude in addition to adding larger sizes into their collection. Hiring plus-sized models and revamping their ad campaigns won’t hurt either.
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