Is Abercrombie just for the 'cool kids'?
Dredged-up old comments implying as much from the edgy retailer's CEO renew the controversy, which hasn't fazed investors.
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) has a history of courting controversy, and its latest "fat" flap is no exception.
The teen-focused clothing store is battling negative public perception for some 2006 remarks from chief executive Michael Jeffries, who expressed his chain's desire to "go after the cool kids." He added, "A lot of people don't belong, and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
Why are 7-year-old quotes getting Jeffries in hot water today? A Business Insider article earlier this month revisited his comments, while pointing out that the store doesn't sell plus-size clothes or sizes beyond large, unlike some of its competitors. Robin Lewis, the author of "The New Rules of Retail," told the website Jeffries' comments were meant as an exclusion against "larger people."
Jeffries has apologized for those comments and is even meeting with a teen protester who has asked Abercrombie to expand its range of sizes. But the maelstrom that has erupted has been fierce.
Actress Kirstie Alley, who has struggled with her weight, said on "Entertainment Tonight" that she would "never buy anything" from the store. Others who have condemned the chain include actress Sophia Bush and talk-show host Ellen de Generes.
So far, shareholders are ignoring the ruckus. Indeed, Abercrombie's stock has jumped almost 10% since the controversial comments were resurfaced.
Investors have several reasons for their thick skin. First, Abercrombie thrives on controversy. In 1997, the store debuted a magazine called A&F Quarterly that featured scantily clad models and was condemned as soft-core porn.
And Jeffries himself, who has headed the company since 1992, is known for his eccentric tastes, requiring actors and models working aboard the company's Gulfstream jet to wear an Abercrombie uniform, including a "spritz" of the store's cologne, according to Bloomberg.
Those serving on the company plane must follow 40 pages of instructions, including wearing black gloves to lay out silverware and playing the song "Take Me Home" when passengers board.
The bigger issue for Abercrombie investors isn't so much its CEO's oddities or comments but whether he can boost sales and earnings. The company may post a loss when it reports first-quarter results on Friday, but revenue is expected to rise 2.2%, Forbes says.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Sounds like a douche bag to me.
Really? This is still a story? There's an easy solution to this, don't buy their clothes if you don't like them. I'm too old and fat to buy that brand, do clothes need to be politically correct too? Maybe we should all wear freakin pant-suits.
narcissists. They can have their crappy clothes and attitude.
I agree, people with an attitude problem like Mr. Jeffries cannot belong in a polite, modern society ;)
1 - I don't shop at A&F
2 - It doesn't matter what segment of society feels left out from A&F. If A&F wants to keep a narrow consumer base, that's up to them. If they want to widen it to make more profits, that too is up to them. If folks don't like how A&F targets or excludes certain consumer bases, they should take their money somewhere else.
3 - Other than that I really don't give a flying fk who feels slighted because one store caters to 'cool' or and 'skinnie' customers.
I shopped there ONE day many moons ago. I just needed something real quick to wear tomorrow for work or school and it was the first store in the mall I walked in. I was rudely awakened by how expensive the stuff was and the POOR Quality. Everything was basically washed out rags and they were charging an arm and a leg for it. I think I bought a shirt that I pretty much wore once or twice. That was over 25 years ago. Needless to say I have not been back in there since. I walk past it in the mall all the time and don't even think twice about going in there nor do I let my family drag me in there.
I'm sorry to say but nothing but over priced rags.
I can easily fit into A&F styles..i just don't think their clothes are particularly attractive..nor are they well made..you can put an A&F label on inferior crap..and what you have is inferior crap with a procey label..
When A&F goes out of business and the analysts discuss what happened, they'll end up with the fact that A&F made a decision to exclude most of the American customer base. Any company that exclusively targets to teens who by nature have no money to spend, is asking to go bankrupt. Especially in this economy when so many young people can't find jobs.
And for them to put their low quality cheaply clothes made in sweatshops in China or Bangaldesh or Pakistan or fill in the blank poor country as items to be coveted because they drape these clothes on anorexic models is ridculous.
Believe me, the "real cool kids" wouldn't be caught dead in A&F clothes.
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