Kirstie Alley slams Abercrombie (+video): Moms, will you be shopping there?
Kirstie Alley slams Abercrombie & Fitch about their skinny 'look,' and refusal to sell clothes for consumers over size 10. But the company has weathered criticism before. Will Kirstie Alley's slam make a difference?
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries has managed to tick off actress Kirstie Alley and the entire Over-size-10 population his employee “look” policy. Yet Wall Street isn't complaining. The brand’s profits remain steady, and the stock is trading at the top of its 52-week range.Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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But Wall Street doesn't represent Kirstie Alley, or most moms, I suspect.
Alley, who is a mom, denounced Jeffries comments in an interview with Entertainment Tonight (see video): "He said Abercrombie clothes are for people who are cool and look a certain way and are beautiful and are thin' and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," Alley said. "That would make me never buy anything from Abercrombie."
"I’ve got two kids in that bracket," said Alley (who's sons are 18 and 20). "But they will never walk in those doors because of his view of people -- forget women, his view of just people.”
While Mr. Jeffries has caught flak for his comments for now, he may have the last laugh if parents and other consumers continue to shop there.
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For the moment, Jeffries is getting the opportunity to see how the other 67 percent lives — that’s how many shoppers are plus-size, according to ABC News.
He’s also experiencing something close to the bullying suffered by those who don’t fit his company’s “look.”
There’s a petition on Change.org demanding the store stock larger sizes (only 75 people have signed it). Teenage critics protested outside a Chicago Abercrombie and Fitch store earlier this week. And in a viral video campaign, "#FitchTheHomeless," filmmaker Greg Karber is trying to "re-brand" the company by giving its clothes to homeless people. I really like the "Karberizing" of the brand as a form of punishment.
By now Jeffries’ 2006 Salon interview, resurfacing since ABC News ran a piece showing the company sells mainly size 00, is cemented in the annals of marketing history; a monument to how long a bad remark can remain potent thanks to the computer and online memory.
He told Salon in 2006: “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…. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
As a result of his remarks Jeffries is being momentarily schooled on how it feels to be unpopular. I hope he’s also learning that size only matters when it comes to mistakes.
However, I wonder if this lesson will stick. While under his direction, the brand has been a constant source of courtroom and news fodder for its discriminatory in-store “look” policy, but it has also won praise from the LGBT community for “inclusion hiring policies.”
The Human Rights Campaign lists Abercrombie & Fitch at the top of its 2012 Corporate Equality Index.
In response to the ranking, the company's senior vice president of diversity and inclusion is quoted by HRC saying:
“Through A&F's corporate values and sound diversity strategy, we remain committed to a focused and funded initiative that supports all of our associates including the LGBT community."