Abercrombie’s Glitch

Recent reports claim that Abercrombie & Fitch, a teen clothing company, had a drop in sales of 10% in the last quarter. After news of their plummeting sales hit, the company’s stocks plunged by 18%. There are claims that this is due to competition from stores like Forever 21 and H&M, which sell clothing that is more fashion forward and cost less. Another reason for their drop in sales could be due to a backlash against the company for their constant scandals. The public has become so upset with Abercrombie that The Business Insider posted an article about “13 Reasons Why People Hate Abercrombie & Fitch”.

At the end of August, a federal judge ruled in favor of Hani Khan, a former Hollister employee, after she reported religious discrimination against her by the company in 2010. Kahn refused to take off her hijab while working and the store fired her. Abercrombie claims that wearing a hijab in the store is too modest and would slow sales, but were not able to prove it. Khan discusses the incident in a story done by a CBS affiliate.

One of the most well-known scandals from Abercrombie & Fitch involves the CEO, Mike Jeffries. In an interview in 2006 with Salon.com, Jeffries said this: “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”. Abercrombie has refused to carry sizes above large and size 10, though they do carry larger sizes for men so that more muscular males are able to fit. Jeffries also said, “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”. Jeffries did say, after much backlash, that he regretted his comments, but never apologized. See the full Mike Jeffries interview with Salon.com here.

Abercrombie’s signature advertising campaigns often depict scantily clad young people in compromising positions. One of the many images that they have published can be seen below. Complaints have come from many social groups, due to the graphic nature of these images and the target audience Abercrombie is attempting to reach with them. Many have claimed that these images can almost qualify as soft core porn, but Abercrombie is unapologetic for their advertising and continue to use them despite contest.


Abercrombie & Fitch seems to constantly be in the news and never seem to take responsibility or apologize for their mistakes. Is this a good or bad public relations technique. Some say all press is good press. Is this true? And does Abercrombie have a moral obligation to their young target audience to tone down the discrimination and sexual images? Get the conversation started below!

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5 Responses to Abercrombie’s Glitch

  1. Gabi S says:

    I don’t believe the “all press is good press” for this specific incident because Mike Jefferies said some hurtful things to the people who can not wear his clothing. The battle with weight that people deal with is an on-going battle some are extremely over weight and some are extremely underweight. For those who struggle to be over weight and hearing “we don’t want to attract non-good looking people” they must feel like they never have a chance to wear Abercrombie which is such a popular brand for teenagers in high school and middle school where the bullying is at its worst. Abercrombie should not just be for sizes under 10. Many stores now have a plus size section along with their regular section which is fair to everyone and these stores are there to please everyone unlike Abercrombie. I think that Mike Jefferies should apologize for only making clothes to the hot and skinny people out there and be like other stores and please everyone and every size!

  2. cwagenti says:

    I’ve never had any desire to shop at Abercrombie & Fitch, and am in no way apologetic for them. I do, however, agree with some of their stances, and disagree with others. For instance, Hani Kahn who was fired because of her hijab. From what I’ve read via the links provided, the store has a dress code stated in the employee handbook which Kahn signed off on as being read and understood. Also, she was subtly asked not to wear it within the first 4 months, so as not to make it sound harsh or discriminatory. I have to side with A&F here. The firing had nothing to do with her religion and everything to do with the dress code. If you are told up front about rules that clash with your religious beliefs, why accept the position? If it’s because you desperately need a job, then you need to make the sacrifice of adjusting your beliefs while at work. Your moral obligation to your employer is to follow his rules. That is why he’s paying you. His moral obligation to you is to supply a safe working environment and a fair salary. As far as A&F’s ads go, I think they are obnoxious for any target audience. Personally, I’d rather be left to use my imagination. Jeffries has a very selfish and narrow-minded sense of business. That in itself is not bad. He has the right to sell and market to a specific group of people. Specialty stores of all kinds do this, ie, the Al-Salam Arabic Supermarket in Tampa. However, to be a contributor to society, he does need to be more tolerant of those he doesn’t market to.

  3. Kaitlyn H. says:

    I agree with the fact that all press is good press, so part of the reason that Abercrombie doesn’t apologize for their mistakes or always uses scandalous pictures that could be considered soft core porn, could be to get this press because it does continue to work. I disagree with the fact that Abercrombie used racial discrimination in denying Kahn the ability to wear her hijab while working, but at the same time they are working towards a certain image, constantly finding ways to build this image up, and unfortunately a woman wearing a hijab or multicultural women in general are not the first to typically be displayed on advertisement for Abercrombie. Many would say this is ethically wrong, but Abercrombie is definitely not the first and only clothing label to be unethical in their advertising and images. I think that Jeffries made it clear in his interview that he feels no moral obligation to his young target audience to tone down the discrimination and sexual images. He gives off more of an “it is what it is” attitude, which could be the root of all his success and for all the money Abercrombie has made and still continues to make thus far.

  4. torrie.winsett says:

    Personally, I do not agree with the phrase that all press is good press. I think that the more Abercrombie is in the news, the more their sales are going to go down. Mike Jefferies, the CEO, believes in only hiring good looking people in his story which to me is ridiculous. No one is perfect and I know he is trying to sell his brand and he can market to anyone he wants to market to but he needs to be more courteous of others. most stores carry above a size ten in pants but Abercrombie doesn’t. He admits to trying to attract good looking people to his brand. The way Jefferies thinks is unbelievable, but it is his store so he can do what he wants. I understand that they have a strict why Abercrombie got mad at Hani Kahn when they asked her to take off her hijab, but there was no reason to fire her. If I remember correctly, she was an impact work ( someone who works in the back and doesn’t come to the front) so I didnt see why they had to fire her. I think that Abercrombie should be more open to the people they hire and then they wouldn’t be so unethical. I also agree with Gabi when she said they should carry a plus size line as well so it is fair to everyone.

  5. Melissa Tantillo says:

    Abercrombie has built its reputation of exclusivity and limiting their product to a specific demographic. Although their intentions may not come from a genuine place, and their advertising tactics and sizes may upset some people in our society, that is what they have built their success off of. Their clothes are intended for a specific group of people. It may seem unethical and judgmental but the truth of the fact is that it works. Abercrombie has been an increasingly profitable company over the years and I do believe that it is largely in part due to their exclusive marketing and advertising tactics.

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