Abercrombie and Fitch…the Real Scandal!
In 2013, Abercrombie and Fitch became the target of a negative media blitz, plummeting US sales and diminishing perception of this once impressive brand.
CEO, Mike Jeffries, of the clothing chain has been on the receiving end of the media and customer backlash for refusing to offer larger sizes of clothing for their customers and for making incredibly controversial remarks.
Now, the company has been dealing with US sales falling 17% in the first quarter of 2013. Parents, teenagers, social media bloggers and TV stars have been in an uproar over Abercrombie and Fitches bullying and exclusionary tactics.
“We are exclusionary.” Mike Jefferies stated in an interview. “Not everyone can wear our clothes…We are for the popular, beautiful, customer.”
Never have I seen such a suicidal display for this significant of a company. Ironically, the old saying of “any publicity is better than no publicity” doesn’t pan out here.
Since the media fallout, US parents and teenagers have chosen to boycott the infamous store. Petitions have surfaced around the internet asking for clothing size changes and also for the firing of Mike Jeffries.
Recently, Jeffries has made modest apologies but they haven’t really sunk into the US consumer’s psyche. He said that he “Seriously regrets” that his “choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense.” I am not sure if people really believe him.
However, in Poland, it is still one of the most valued clothing lines among teenagers. The average shirt Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirt costs almost $100 USD while here in the US, the same shirt goes for $19.50.
In Asia, they are planning on expending their market with additional Hollister stores of the Abercrombie and Fitch Company. According to Jeffries, same-store sales of the Hollister stores are positive and the 2 Hong Kong stores are the best-selling stores in the company.
So, while in the US we are struggling with the thought of being betrayed and emotionally slapped in the face by one of our most popular clothing brands, other countries haven’t even noticed what was happening here. Or, they chose not to make it their battle.
This blip will be forgotten and Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch will continue to hold high value in various markets for different reasons. Teenagers are fickle and will return to the store and buy really tight and ragged looking clothes for overly inflated prices just so they will be viewed as the “popular one.”
I will be interested to see how CEO, Jeffries will be perceived in 2 years when all of this has been forgotten. Did this scandal really just create an opportunity for the company to jump to another higher level of value for the teenager? Let’s just wait and see….