This here article makes it pretty darned clear that Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch is a man obsessed with beauty. It’s a fairly lengthy piece of writing, so you can have yourselves a tiny little excerpt from it:
“His biggest obsession, though, is realizing his singular vision of idealized all-American youth. He wants desperately to look like his target customer (the casually flawless college kid), and in that pursuit he has aggressively transformed himself from a classically handsome man into a cartoonish physical specimen: dyed hair, perfectly white teeth, golden tan, bulging biceps, wrinkle-free face, and big, Angelina Jolie lips.”
Jeffries is also a man who grinds his axe repeatedly about this ‘need’ of beauty. He goes to great lengths talking about beautiful people and employing only painfully attractive people in his large headquarters. Some reports say he has a picture of a well-toned masculine abdomen framed above the fireplace in his house.
Some of us might find all of this a touch superficial. Some others might think of it as a brand-man-living-thebrand-life. But then again, a man has a right to his opinions (as does a woman, by the way.) The problems only start when one man’s opinions begin sermonising the rest of the world. His statements, for instance about fat people.
In his words, ““In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “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.”
I suspect the legal eagles got to work and asked him to issue a statement of apology (7 years after the original comment), and seeing his company’s dipping fortunes, Jeffries obliged. But this half baked apology only managed to bring in more hatred for the man and his brand. And it also dug up those old graves he thought he’d sealed up nice and straight.
People are now talking about the thongs for middle-school girls, which had “Eye Candy” and “Wink Wink” printed on their fronts. To which Jeffries simply reacts: “People said we were cynical, that we were sexualizing little girls. But you know what? I still think those are cute underwear for little girls. And I think anybody who gets on a bandwagon about thongs for little girls is crazy. Just crazy! There’s so much craziness about sex in this country. It’s nuts! I can see getting upset about letting your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs, but why would you let your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs?”
People are also talking abotu a t-shirt design that had heavy racial undertones. These people our friend simply calls ‘humorless Asians’.
And then there are people who are writing letters to Mike. These he doesn’t really respond to.
And finally, there’s this one person who seems to be taking his whole messaging through advertising thingamajig and giving it right back to him.
A note: I don’t very often put up so much information in a single blog post. It tends to erase my line of thought entirely. And I suspect that’s just the case here. So I’ll stop. But here’s a picture of the man who doesn’t like fat and ugly. Sorry for doing this to you.
EDIT: I also found this piece that talks about how another brand H&M showcases their swimwear range using a ‘plus sized’ model. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get a feeling this is another sort of patronizing attempt. In a good guy sort of way. When will women (and men, to be sure) learn to accept their bodies the way they are, instead of having brands and advertising dictate to them how they must feel?