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Abercrombie and Fitch accused of only targeting the 'thin and beautiful'


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abercrombieOnce again, retail giant Abercrombie and Fitch has come under fire for purposefully excluding plus size customers.

In an interview with Business Insider, co-author of The New Rules of Retail Robin Lewis says that the company’s CEO Mike Jeffries "doesn't want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people."

Lewis added that the reason for this is that "he doesn't want his core customers to see people who aren't as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they're one of the "cool kids."

In the past, the retailer has been accused of exclusion because it only employs ‘good looking people’ and sells clothes up to a UK size 10, or women’s Large. While A&F offers men’s sizes up to XXL it is believed that this is to cater for a more muscular physique.

Evidence for Robin Lewis’ statements comes from Mr Jeffries himself. In an interview with Salon in 2006 he stated, "[regarding sex appeal] That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that."

Despite the fact that the excluded ‘plus size’ (referring to US size 14 and above) makes up 67% of America’s purchasing population, Jeffries regards the alienation of these potential customers to be good branding. He explained, "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids.

"We go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

While competitors H&M and American Eagle offer size XXL for men and women and use models larger than size 12 in advertising campaigns, Abercrombie and Fitch’s CEO argues that his method of ostracizing customers through sex appeal and size leaves the loyal customers wanting more.

"Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either," he said.

In previous years Abercrombie and Fitch has been sued for giving positions to white applicants, to the exclusion of minorities. In 2009 British student Riam Dean, who was born without a left forearm was forced to work out of sight in the stockroom of A&F’s Savile Row store in London. She won £8,000 in an employment tribunal.

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