Friday, May 10, 2013

Controversy sells?

You might remember, if you read here very often, that about a month ago, I wrote a post about how I disapprove of exclusivity. Among other things, I wrote that people who strive to belong to the most exclusive clubs, eat at the most exclusive restaurants, go to the most exclusive schools only do that to to "assert that they're better than others, are entitled to special stuff that others don't deserve, and are just more deserving than all but a few others they want to be associated with."

Well, if you do remember that, you aren't going to be surprised to read this post.

It seems that Abercrombie and Fitch and its CEO, Mike Jeffries, are in the news again over the company's marketing strategies. The clothing chain that markets to the presumably young and beautiful is no stranger to controversy after having been accused of (and sued for) being racist, sexist and ableist in hiring policies, and called down for selling things like women's t-shirts that carried messages such as, "Who needs brains when you have these?", is coming under fire again for its exclusionary marketing.

While the chain carries men's clothing in sizes XL and XXL, they do not sell women's clothing over size 10. A profile of Jeffries in the online magazine Salon in 2006 quoted him as saying "...we want to market to good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that" and that "A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

How an almost 70-year-old man (he was 61 when he was interviewed for the Salon article) can be so blithely insulting toward anyone, especially any woman, who does not fit his conception of beautiful (which amounts to very young and very thin) is beyond me, but apparently he's comfortable with that. He reportedly even only wants "beautiful" people in his stores.

Not that his is the only company that uses these sorts of exclusionary tactics. In a report on ABC News, it was said that a number of upscale retailers only carry low-size, high-priced merchandise in order control the clientele they attract.

The thing that bothers me the most, though, I think, is not the fact of the racism and sexism and exclusivity that Abercrombie and Fitch seems so proud of. What bothers me even more are statements like that made by Robin Lewis, author of "The New Rules of Retail" in the ABC News story, where he called Jeffries a "brilliant visionary". This is basically saying that no matter what the company does, or the attitudes that Jeffries espouses, as long as the company keeps growing, keeps making more money, whatever it does is perfectly all right.

Really? You can be racist and sexist and ableist, but if you're rich that's fine?

Mr. Jeffries can do what he wants as long as his stockholders (A&F is a publicly traded company) approve, I suppose. But from where I'm sitting, he really looks like a jerk. Of course, I'm sure he doesn't care about my opinion. I'm old and fat and female, so in his universe I don't count for anything.

This is me, not giving a flying fig what he thinks, either.

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