Turns out that old adage, "All press is good press" has proven untrue, yet again. Following a media thrashing in the spring (some of that from me) for their proud refusal to sell clothing in larger sizes, especially for women, Abercrombie & Fitch has reversed that long-standing decision. Since shares in the company's stock have lost about 30% of their value in 2013, it seems that the company is looking to expand their customer base beyond the "cool kids," which were previously only minted in certain sizes, according to their CEO (See quote below).
Abercrombie rival American Eagle, which relies on a similar business model as the mall chain store, has come out ahead in their financial year-end predictions, and isn't struggling at all. A key part of Abercrombie's attempt at recovery is selling women's clothing in larger sizes.
As I wrote in May: "In 2006, the CEO of the brand (which also includes the tween-friendly Hollister), Mike Jeffries, told Salon, '... 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. In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,' he says. 'Candidly, 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. 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.'
An Abercrombie spokesperson did go on to apologize for Jeffries' quote, but at that time, still refused to make their clothing available in XL for women. Just a few months later, they have realized their mistake. Maybe it's that stars like Adele, Rumer Willis and Melissa McCarthy have broken out this year, or maybe it's because the younger generation is taking it's anti-bullying education to heart, but leaving people out of your brand due to their body shape isn't resonating with tween and teen shoppers.
Looks like being exclusionary and making fun of people for their body size isn't very good business.
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