Terrifying cat-person and CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch Mike Jeffries has come under fire for exporting the company’s discriminatory policies to Hong Kong along with its douchey frat boy attire.
According to the SCMP, Robin Lewis, Hong Kong based co-author of The New Rules of Retail, said Jeffries “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store”.
Jeffries, Lewis said, “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people, and he 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’.
“The only reason Abercrombie offers XL and XXL men’s sizes is probably to appeal to beefy football players and wrestlers,” Lewis, a professor at the Graduate School of Professional Studies at The Fashion Institute of Technology, added.
Jeffries is open about his company’s discriminatory sizing policies, which are more akin to high-fashion brands rather than, you know, Abercrombie & Fitch. He told Salon in 2006 that “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.”
A&F’s CEO has also defended the company’s openly discriminatory hiring policy, which forces employees to conform to a strict “measuring system” and do exercises to stay “thin and beautiful”.
Dr Daniel Ho Sai-yin, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Community Health, branded the comments “harmful”. He said: “I wish the company would be more sensitive to the feelings of people who are not their target customers.
A study conducted by Ho and his colleagues in 2009 elaborates on some of these harms. Perceived fatness and incorrect weight comments predicted psychological health problems, which were confirmed at a follow-up a year later to be headaches, feelings of stress, and feelings of depression. Ho and his colleagues suggest that social contacts, peers, and family members need to be aware of the potential adverse effects of their weight comments.
With such a large percentage of people in the plus-sized demographic, can A&F really afford to ostracise this group?
A&F’s main competitors, H&M, Forever 21, and American Eagle, all stock larger sizes. While these companies are a long way from perfect, they’re at least not run by unapologetic assholes like Mike Jeffries.