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!