Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t carry the sixes XL and XXL in their clothing store. They do carry those sizes in men’s clothing so that buff male athletes will also wear the brand.
Large people do not appeal to A&F’s marketing scheme. The CEO has made multiple public statements on the topic, including “It’s almost everything. 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.”
We know. We noticed that all of the preppy, popular kids in high school had wardrobes full of Abercrombie and Fitch apparel.
This marketing scheme makes logical sense. The popular teens see other beautiful teens wearing the brand and want to fit in. They see the advertisements full of impossibly beautiful people. Every year, the company comes out with a catalogue that has to be purchased from the store, chock full of pictures of naked, stereotypically attractive, predominately white people. Only people who deem themselves in the league of the attractiveness of the models should be wearing the clothes, as far as the brand is concerned.
Those less “attractive” may aspire to be one of the popular kids. They also shell out the money and don the clothing, on the off chance that this will make them as attactive and as cool as those they wish they were friends with.
Finally, there are those with larger body types who simply will not be able to fit into the clothing brand. This makes CEO Mike Jeffries very happy. Without his clothes being unobtainable by the truly “unattractive”, then his clothes would not be as cool. The core customers are to be stereotypically hot, youthful people.
For all of these reasons, the brand is able to overprice clothing that is marketed to teens. Teenagers are generally not able to pay the same clothing prices that adults do. Instead, they shop at cheaper outlets like Forever 21 and H&M. With this cool-ness branding, teenagers are willing to pay whatever it takes to make it. Massive amounts of buyers fly from Asian countries to large A&F stores in order to fulfill their client’s wishes and provide this elusive, cool clothing.
Not to mention that aspiring to these ideals can create eating disorders.
Legally, the brand must hire sales people as “models”. This way, they must be attractive and cool, personifying everything that Mike Jeffries wants. Potentially less attractive employees work in the back of the store, in the stock room.
I think that is a brilliant marketing scheme. I also think that it is disgusting.
Another CEO quote for your viewing pleasure:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
Ugh. Makes sense, but no thank you. If purposeful discrimination is what it takes to be cool, then you get what you pay for.