By Manuel McDonnell Smith
“Time heals all wounds,” promises the old adage. Apparently, one month is not going to be enough for retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, whose brand is being beaten about by Hollywood’s elite over its discriminatory policies regarding plus-sized people.
Actress Kirstie Alley started the celebrity movement with her immediate response to A&F’s revelation that the brand has decided not to sell women’s clothes larger than size 10. CEO Mike Jeffries once said, “A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong.” Understandably offended, Alley pledged that her children “will never walk into those stores because of his view of people.”
Since then, a chorus of Hollywood voices has joined in publicly bashing the brand and the offensive views spewed by its CEO, including:
The actress/singer has reportedly promised to burn all of her A&F clothing not only because she hated the company’s comments, but also because they were “stinking up my place.”
On her popular television talk show, the comedienne weighed in on the controversy with a sketch comparing the company’s sizes to tiny baby clothes. Her commentary, titled “Fitch, Please,” has been viewed nearly 3 million times on YouTube.
Promising a “brand readjustment” for the Abercrombie clothing line, the Los Angeles filmmaker toured area thrift stores collecting the brand’s items and then distributed them to the homeless. The video documentary of his efforts has more than 7.6 million views on YouTube and has been endorsed by Rosie O’Donnell and Katie Couric.
Not only did the popular plus-sized blogger pen an open letter blasting Abercrombie CEO Jeffries, she also posed for a faux ad campaign wearing A&F (“Attractive & Fat”) apparel. Her efforts received national attention when they were featured on NBC’s Today show.
Partially in response to the backlash, Abercrombie announced a new initiative to support anti-bullying organizations and provide college scholarships for students who have persevered against or fought bullying. In a statement released by the company, Jeffries said, “We’ve listened to the conversations and heard the message and, as a company, look forward to increasing our commitment to anti-bullying efforts,” and then went on to claim that the company is “fully committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion.”
While this press release appears to show that the uproar has finally reached the company’s board room, it may have arrived too late for the brand’s customers and Wall Street investors. Over the past month, A&F’s stock has been trending down more than 5 points under its monthly average.