Since his 2006 interview with Salon resurfaced last week and went viral, Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Michael S. Jeffries has faced a slew of backlash and protests towards his blunt comments regarding the company’s marketing strategy.
In the interview, Jeffries 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.”
The CEO has faced controversy and lawsuits in the past for discriminating against employees and employee candidates based on their physical appearance or their age, and for refusing to produce plus-sized clothing. Amid the recent backlash, Jeffries released a statement Thursday claiming that the quotes were mostly taken out of context and gave no indication that the company would change course.
Should they? Where do you draw the line between focusing on a particular demographic and being an exclusionary company? To what extent should a company be responsible for being inclusive? Have Jeffries’ candid remarks actually helped his company? Would you shop at Abercrombie? Would you let your kids shop there?
Gabriella Santaniello, Senior Vice President of Retail Market Research at Wedbush Securites