Abercrombie & Fitch CEO not so different from the rest of us

May 24, 2013 | By | Reply More

We often make snap judgements based on image, just like Abercrombie & Fitch CEO

Beacon News blogger Kevin Olenick.

Beacon News blogger Kevin Olenick.

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries has come under fire for comments he made in a 2006 Salon interview.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries said in the interview with Salon.

“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.”

Growing up, I was never considered the cool kid. I wasn’t considered good looking. So I wasn’t the one that was surrounded with the ladies. I wasn’t a jock. I loved sports, but was never great at them. I didn’t smoke. So I was never outside with the “smokers.” I loved drama class, but I never felt I fit in with that group.

It wasn’t from a lack of trying. I tried to hang out with people. My Myers-Briggs is ENFJ, and when I was younger, My “E” was quite high and I loved being around people. However, my social skills, and self-confidence were both lacking. So, as much as I tried, I never felt I was “in.”

Maybe, I didn’t alienate anybody, but there was a good chance I didn’t excite anybody either.

If you look at Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries, it would seem he has carved out his image. He’s 68 years old and wears flip flops. He’s got kind of a blonde surfer guy look going on. His lingo is “cool.” He says “dude’ a lot.

I bet you if you asked Mike Jeffries if he thought he was cool, he would say yes. I bet you his friends might say the same thing too. I don’t know him, but my guess would be if we met, we wouldn’t be close buds.

Much has been made since this quote from 2006 has resurfaced. In part because Abercrombie and Fitch announced they will not sell plus sizes for teens in their store.

The response continues to swell over social media. There have been many open letters written from girls who declare themselves as “fat.” Angered and offended people all across the world have stood up and spoke out over this image Abercrombie and Fitch has created for teens.

The idea of simply rejecting someone based on body type is well…. ignorant, judgemental. Flat out disgusting.

You know what? When I first read this, my reaction was the exact same thing. I was angered and disgusted.

However, in the moment of my frustration, something stopped me. It was a brief pause. But the pause opened up some questions.

You go out to parties right? Or a bar? Or a pub? So do I. I’ve been to many parties.

Here’s a question. Have you ever stopped and people watched at the parties? I have. Here’s another question? Have you ever watched yourself at the party?

Do you open the door and do a quick “social map” of the area? What are you looking for? The people you fit in with.People with similar interests. Similar drinks. Similar style. Why? Because you probably think they are “cool.”

Here’s another question. How do you prepare for a party? Do you look sharp? Do you have a “style” you are trying to convey to catch attention? What if you see a really good looking guy or girl? Do you try to impress them so they think you are “cool?”

What happens at parties? At bars? At pubs? Lots of small talk. What is the first thing that you might ask someone? Is it “what do you do for a living?”

Here’s another question. What if someone comes into the circle that doesn’t have the same interests as you? Or is that socially awkward one that says something really odd? Is maybe drinking something you don’t like? Or not even drinking alcohol. Or does something that quite frankly, you are not interested in? Or, has a plain or horrible style? Or is uninteresting? Or is unattractive?

Aren’t we all trying to fit in? Even us who didn’t? Don’t the heart of the open letters and the responses stem from the very hurt that disconnected them? Don’t we human beings have a real desire to belong? So we do what we can, do be what we think our version of “cool” is?

Aren’t we all exclusive? You can’t connect with everyone. It’s simply not possible. Subconsciously, we set who’s in and who’s out. So we make snap judgements, and as harsh as this sounds, they are based on image. You who feel cool, reject the uncool. You who feel uncool, you reject the cool.

Our hearts were shaken and we reacted to the words of Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries and who he is marketing to.

But, maybe we need we examine our own hearts and actions of who we are marketing to.

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