Unless you have been hiding under a rock and avoiding social media and the news all together you are probably aware that the clothing company Abercrombie and Fitch have been receiving a lot of flack lately over comments that were made by their CEO during his 2006 interview with Salon.
Quotes from the article that have been circulating include:
“We go after the cool kids,”
“A lot of people don’t belong, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
All of these comments have not only inspired a variety of social media hatred but have also inspired Los Angeles-based writer Greg Karber to go as far as starting what he calls a brand readjustment campaign, encouraging people to find Abercrombie and Fitch clothing and give it to the homeless.
Now personally I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Abercrombie and Fitch. I think their clothes are boring and as a US size 8 I probably wouldn’t find anything that fits me. I also think that the comments made by their CEO Mike Jeffries were idiotic and whoever thought it was a good idea to let that man represent the brand publicly should be fired.
HOWEVER, regardless of my distaste for the brand and Mike Jeffries as a person, I have two issues with the recent campaign by Greg Karber that I would like to explore.
Firstly, I don’t understand why everyone is so pissed off that a clothing designer wants to be exclusive. Last time I checked exclusivity is what boosts most designers to fame.
Yes being left out sucks, I am also considered one of the uncool kids who isn’t wanted at this store, however I am also too skinny to shop at 1626 (a store that exclusively caters to plus size women), too poor to shop at Louis Vuitton (a store that caters to the rich and famous) and too young to find anything I like at Millers (a store that specifically caters to older ladies).
Yet nobody is protesting these outlets.You know why?!?!….I’m going to assume that it is because their PR teams were smart enough to stop their CEO’s from insulting all of the demographic’s that were not being targeted by their store’s.
Also the fat and old are a demographic we sympathize with, cool kids are not. Instead of thinking well that sounds about right when someone says they are targeting pretty people our eyes see red!!! How dare they target people who have it all and leave the rest of us average, plump people out of the loop.
What’s that???? …..oh I see, the fact that they burn their clothes instead of donating them charity is also a major issue.
I agree that is shitty!! And again stupid as donating their seconds and left over stock to charity is actually a smart tax write off.
However, according to the article What happens to all of those clothes retailers can’t sell? many brands are guilty of shredding, burning and dumping items they don’t sell so that they can keep their image in tact and prices high.
As a lover of the environment I think this behavior is atrocious.
So rather than vilify Abercrombie and Fitch for participating in common industry practices and putting his efforts into ‘rebranding’ the companies image because he was insulted by Mike Jefferies rude comments. I would rather see Greg Karber put his energy into campaigning against the poor environmental practices of the fashion industry.
Abercrombie and Fitch is a business and as a business they do not need to cater to everyone. It’s not economically viable to stock all sizes and finding a niche market is actually a smart move in the world where there is a lot of competition. However being wasteful and participating in poor environmental practices is not OK.
Secondly, I don’t agree with exploiting homeless people, by running around and filming them as you throw ugly t-shirts in their face, in order to make a point.
The film isn’t about promoting charity, the homeless people are used as a pawn. It is very clear during the film that Greg Karber doesn’t care about their well being or clothing them he is simply using them to gain fame and take down a brand.
Where do we draw the line??
Last time I checked Louis Vuitton didn’t give their clothes to the homeless either. If I they did I would probably quit my job and hit the streets tomorrow.
In addition as Greg..yeah we are on a first name basis now… rides around on his high horse fighting back against the brands mean comments, he in turn comments on the CEO’s looks and suggests that anyone who buys the brands clothes is a douche bag.
Although I don’t agree with his attack I will admit it is clever, I will also admit that as a Public Relations Consultant part of me loves that someone is punishing this brand for having repeatedly poor public relations strategies.
That said, I think that rather than jump on this bandwagon and following Greg down a tit for tat slippery slop of hypocrisy we should rethink this campaign and focus on changing the environmentally damaging behaviors of our fashion industry rather than punishing Abercrombie and Fitch for hiring terrible spokespeople.
Exclusivity and catering to a niche market is the key to most branding if you don’t like it shop elsewhere.
Till next time.