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Abercrombie and Fitch Controversy
Recently, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch came under fire for controversial comments about the clothing they make and who they market their clothes to.
But this is not the first controversy Abercrombie and Fitch has faced.
Find out what controversies Abercrombie and Fitch has had in the last few years and how the public is fighting back against the company and its image.
Abercrombie and Fitch started out in the late 1800's as a sportsman's clothing company.
Many famous politicians, actors and actesses and wealthy people bought their sports clothing from the catalogs.
But as the demand for this type of clothing decreased, AF found itself in dire financial straits.
CEO Mike Jeffries entered the picture in 1992 and helped turn the company around, pitching the clothing as high fashion to the teenage and pre-teen crowd.
Abercrombie and Fitch has had some rough spots along the way since Jeffries took over.
Drinking 101 in the 1998 Catalog
During the summer of 1998, Abercrombie and Fitch sent out a catalog containing controversial material.
Included in the catalog were:
- a spinner for drinking games
- recipes for drinks
- tips on sex in the dorm room
- the history of streaking
While Abercrombie and Fitch claimed to market their items to young adults, young people as young as eight tended to patronize the store and receive the catalogs.
After the public outcry grew, AF pulled the catalog.
In 2002, AF printed a series of T-Shirts containing cartoonish pictures of Asian people with exaggerated racial features.
Many customers, especially those of Asian ethnicity protested the clothing.
AF noted that they were surprised by the outcry and that they thought Asian people would think the shirts were funny.
In 2005 AF came under fire again for controversial t-shirts marketed to young girls. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the t-shirts had offensive phrases on them such as: "Who Needs Brains When You Have These," "I See that You've Already Met The Twins," and "Do I Make You Look Fat?"
Girls and parents around the country protested in front of the stores and boycotted them.
Thongs for Kids in 2002
In the Spring of 2002 Abercrombie and Fitch also sparked controversy by selling thong underwear in girl sizes.
Not only was the underwear a thong but it also had phrases such as "eye candy" and "wink wink" printed on the front of it.
Many parents protested the company's choice to market this kind of product to young girls.
Disciminatory Hiring Practices 2008
In 2008, AF had a lawsuit filed against them claiming discriminatory hiring practices.
The lawsuit claimed that AF rarely hired ethnicities other than caucasian and that when they did, the minorities were not given the opportunity for sales positions where they would be visible to the public.
The lawsuit was settled for 40 million dollars in 2009 and AF also agreed to change its hiring practices to include more diverse staff.
Push Up Tops for Kids in 2011
Abercrombie and Fitch came under fire yet again when they sold a padded bikini bathing suit top marketed to children who are seven or eight.
The bikini top also said that it had "push-up" triangles.
After parents complained about these types of marketing techniques for children, AF changed the label descriptions of the bikini but did not actually change the bikini itself.
It still had padding and push-up wires.
Clothing for the Cool Kids 2013
Recently, a petition at Change.org noted that Abercrombie and Fitch should start carrying larger sizes to fit more people.
This brought to light a quote that the CEO made in a Salon.com interview back in 2006.
In the interview Jeffries said that he only wanted to market to the "cool kids."
He noted "A lot of people don't belong (in our clothes), and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
The public outcry this time was been palpable.
As society worked to become more inclusive and accepting, AF continued to define its brand by a very narrow set of standards.
This is something they had a right to do, but was it good for business?
Controversy Good For Business
As you can see from the multitude of controversies over the past couple of decades, AF doesn't seem to learn its lesson.
Or maybe it learned it too well.
Controversy is good business;"There's no such thing as bad publicity."
Staying controversial keeps their name in the news and the brand in the forefront.
But the latest controversy may have changed that as more people seem to be becoming less tolerant of what are perceived to be discriminatory practices.
Fitch the Homeless
This most recent Abercrombie and Fitch controversy has brought about some interesting responses.
From Glittersnipe's "Abercrombie & Fitch, Y'all Suck" to reactions on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, consumers are disgusted by the exclusionary tactics and the objectification of women and girls.
One person came up with an idea to fight back against AF's "cool kid" image.
Film maker Greg Karber tweeted this: I was so mad at Abercrombie & Fitch I made a video to change their brand. (Note: Video was removed due to a copyright claim).
After that, others picked up on the idea and tweeted about it.
The hashtag #fitchthehomeless began taking off.
As of May 14, 2013, #fitchthehomeless had been tweeted at least 2100 times and the message was still spreading.
Abercrombie and Fitch has not responded to the campaign or the latest controversy.
What do you think of Abercrombie and Fitch as a company?
References and Further Reading
- From the Anonymous Southern White Woman: ‘Abercrombie & Fitch, Y’all Suck!&a
- Abercrombie Kids | Push-Up Bikini | CONTROVERSY | Styleite
Abercrombie & Fitch is a brand that knows no shortage of controversy. Sperm-harming fragrances, discrimination lawsuits — and remember those racist t-shirts? Abercrombie even landed itself on a list of the worst companies in the world.
- Abercrombie criticized for sexy undies - May. 22, 2002
Abercrombie & Fitch, the retailer that has been criticized for sexually and racially provocative catalogs and designs, is under fire -- again.
- Abercrombie & Fitch to pull line of T-shirts
- Abercrombie ads pushing the boundaries once again? | kare11.com
Days after hitting store shelves, new Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts featuring caricatured faces with slanted eyes and rice-paddy hats had Asian Americans in the Bay Area and beyond demanding a public apology from the retailer. Beside the prominent
- The Look Of Abercrombie & Fitch - CBS News
60 Minutes on CBS News: The Look Of Abercrombie & Fitch - Retail Store Accused Of Hiring Attractive, Mostly White Salespeople