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“Fitch, Please”: Celebrity A-List Backlash Against Abercrombie & Fitch Continues to Grow

By Manuel McDonnell Smith

“Fitch, Please”: Celebrity A-List Backlash Against Abercrombie & Fitch Continues to Grow

Kirstie Alley photo by Shutterstock

“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:

Miley Cyrus
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.”

Ellen DeGeneres
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.

Greg Karber
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.

Jes Baker
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.

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9 Comments

  • Diana Trammell

    I am all about diversity and all inclusiveness and I do not agree at all with the stance Abercrombie & Fitch is holding.

    But, I must say, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch has the right to choose not to sell plus-sized clothing. Just like each individual person has the right to choose not to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch.

    We should not try to change the way Abercrombie & Fitch does business because it is not our right to do so. All we can do is let them be, and take our business somewhere else.

    • Hada Haulsee

      Since when is women’s size 12 a plus size? My daughters are both tall size 12′s. They are well within what is considered a healthy weight for their height by the medical profession.

  • The issue here is not that A&F has decided to sell women’s clothing size 10 and under, it is that they openly said if you don’t fit in our clothes, you don’t fit in, and you are not cool! There are plenty of other stores that do not cater to plus size women, and stores that only cater to plus size women, but they so not degrade people who can not wear their clothes. A&F could have handled it much better than they did!

  • I agree with you Diana Trammell. I do not Abercombie & Fitch stsnce. That is their right.

    I do not condone the activities of individuals that can not wear A&F clothing.

    When a pair of shoes I like is not my size I move on. I have shopped at A & F but I really do not like the style. So I prefer not to shop there.

    This campaign against A & F looks more like a self esteem issue. That has to do with themselves not Ambercrombie & Fitch.

  • Ms. Tramwell is correct.
    What A&F is doing is bad marketing, bad public relations and bad business. It is NOT discrimination.
    The well-meaning celebrities may actually be harming REAL anti-discrimination efforts (racial, LGBT, gender, religious, etc). Calling A&F discriminatory because they are snobs waters down the term discrimination.

    Solution: Vote with your wallet. Take your buisiness elsewhere. There are many fine companies and clothing lines who cater to plus sized people. Instead of giving free publicity to unworthy A&F, how about promoting Lane Bryant or Ashley Stewart?

  • Jon Parker

    Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this article was about the refusal of A&F to HIRE, and FEATURE people of color (ie Black Americans, Hispanics) in their stores.

    Oh well, I don’t shop in their stores and forbid my teenagers from walking into such a discriminatory place.

    There is a place for narrow minded stores. I believe the place for those stores is in bankruptcy.

    Peace and love to you.

    • I do not believe there was all this star power uproar when A&F discriminated against persons of color. Whether your plus size or a person of color, keep your money in your pocket, and do not support A&F. The best way to hurt a company is to not purchase their goods.

  • I agree with Ms. Trammell up to a point. I think Tracie said it best. You can choose to specialize in what you sell, but when you tell the public that you do so to exclude other people because in your eyes (((sniff))) they are not worthy to be seen in your brand, well then you need to do some rethinking. Ms. Trammell is apparently not aware of the little fiasco some years ago when it was revealed they didn’t hire people who didn’t look like the models in their ads. If you were plain or ordinary looking you apparently were too “ugly” to sell their clothes. If a company consistently puts out the message that there are certain people (and frankly that’s probably most of us) that don’t fit their paradigm of what is physical perfection, then they should be prepared for a backlash. And while you can choose to sell what you want (there are stores that specialize in plus sizes so those size 10 and under wouldn’t find anything to wear there either), if your company consistently talks about exclusion as some sort of elitist mindset, then what are their hiring practices? What are their policies in the workplace? If you don’t look like you were born and bred in the Hamptons, you don’t get hired? They never got my dollar so I can’t let them know what I think by refusing to shop there. There are two sides to this coin.

    At any rate, societies teach their members how they should behave to fit in that society by expressing displeasure, meting out punishment, sanctions, boycotts, and now through social media – its the American way!!!

  • I understand the body imagery issues. But, imagery and self-confidence aside, isn’t the greater issue, regarding fat and obesity, about what’s healthy? While someone maybe over weight and relatively healthy, hasn’t medical science demonstrated that too much weight is generally unhealthy? Are fat related issues e.g., diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancers related to weight more important concerns, rather than someone’s hurt feelings about not being marketed to because she or he is a size 22 or xxxl?

    If A & F has decided to market clothing to anorexic people suffering from that debilitating disease melanin free, noassatall, then so be it. This is a free-speech issue, right?

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