The Shoddy Ethics of Abercrombie and Fitch

STORY BY Candace Bryan

Published: May 10, 2013

Abercrombie stores can be found in malls all over America selling preppie-style clothing to young teens who want to look “cool.” But these teens aren’t the only ones concerned with their appearance. The Abercrombie and Fitch company itself is renowned for its heinous policies.

A few years ago, it became public knowledge that many Abercrombie employees are legally hired as models. Why? So that employers can practice discriminatory employment by only hiring young men and women who fit the company’s “look.” Once hired, these employees are also forced to mold to a strict style guide provided by the company, with details that go as absurdly far as to mandate just how cuffed their jeans should be. When all this information became public and popular, and cries of both outrage and laughter were had, the company did nothing to change.

Recently, Abercrombie has again come into the spotlight. As American waistlines have expanded in recent years, most big-name retail clothing stores have also expanded the sizes they carry. H&M now carries up to a women’s size 16, while American Eagle offers size 18. Yet at Abercrombie, the largest size available for women is a 10.

The brand’s refusal to change and keep up with the sartorial times is not out of laziness (though it might be more respectable if it were). Instead, the folks at Abercrombie are excluding bigger sizes from their stores for the simple reason that they don’t want big people in their stores. In a 2006 interview, Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries even admitted: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

Now, in the year 2013, Jeffries’ opinions are even less acceptable and more outdated than they were seven years ago. As the world of fashion becomes more accepting and broadens its view of what is cool and beautiful, as plus-size models become more common and respected, Abercrombie might soon find itself completely irrelevant. And honestly, I kind of hope so.

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