Let’s talk about Abercrombie. I mean, c’mon guys, everybody else is. I’m sure you’ve seen the picture with his quote circulating through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and more. He has stated that he will not allow his company to produce clothing for overweight or unattractive people. His direct quote:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “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.”
Now listen, he’s right. Before you riot, let me explain what I mean. Mike Jeffries has found a niche market in making “cool” clothes for thin people. He is highly successful, and people continue to shop in his stores. From a business aspect he has done an amazing thing. Mike Jeffries has convinced almost two generations that in order to be perceived as cool, you must wear clothes with a giant moose on them.
He is an advertising genius. He is marketing brilliance. Not only has he managed to provide a product tailored only to a certain demographic, but has made it so that only his targeted demographic (and weird grown ups) can purchase his clothes. They’re the only ones who can a) fit into them, and b) afford them! Mike Jeffries is everything I would want in a marketer.
Does that mean I share his moral values? Hell no.
Does this mean I like what he’s doing? Not really.
Does this mean I plan to shop at Abercrombie now? Well, the smell is a huge deterrent. Also the aforementioned weird old people are enough to keep me away. There are plenty of other reasons why I won’t shop at Abercrombie.
But do I admire his business strategy? His marketing tactics? Absolutely.
I can’t hate him because he’s so dang clever. I admire cleverness regardless of the form it takes. In order to succeed in today’s economy, you have to produce a product that is so hard to own, that everyone wants it. Everybody wants to be a member of the elite. Abercrombie is one of the many tell tale signs that someone is in that club. Jeffries has made his company a symbol of wealth.
Is he a jerk for not making clothes for bigger people? Sure. But he had the balls to come out and say it. He had it in him to say exactly what his business strategy was. Also, it is his company. He can do what he wants with it.
I’m not saying I agree with what he’s doing, but I can’t help but admire his process.