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With backlash growing over Abercrombie & Fitch's restrictive sizing and some frank comments company C.E.O. Mike Jeffries made about the brand's "exclusionary" image, Jeffries took to the company Facebook page to deliver a sorry-you-were-offended "apology":
I want to address some of my comments that have been circulating from a 2006 interview. While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense.
A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics.
Jeffries is under fire for comments he made in a 2006 Salon interview that have gone viral. Here's what Jeffries said then:
"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."
Because most of the backlash has been fomented via social media, apologizing in that medium, on Facebook, makes sense. But that was one weak statement. Customer reaction seems to be pretty damning so far, with lots of comments calling on Jeffries to put his money where his mouth is by starting to make larger clothes for women. (The brand does men's clothes in sizes XL and XXL, but the women's line stops at L, presumably so only "cool kids" will be able to wear it.)
Women's Wear Daily notes that new market research shows Abercrombie & Fitch's "buzz score"–a measure of the brand's popularity among 18-34-year-olds–has dived deep into negative territory since the scandal broke.
— Jenna Sauers
· A Note From Our C.E.O. [A+F Facebook]
· Grading Abercrombie & Fitch [WWD]
· Rebranding Abercrombie the 'No. 1 Brand of Homeless Apparel?' [Racked]