I don’t know why this is suddenly news again, but people seem to be buzzing this week about Abercrombie & Fitch opting not to carry women’s clothing in large sizes. A&F CEO Mike Jeffries makes no secret of the fact that the intentional absence of XL sizes is meant to cultivate a perception that the brand is exclusively for beautiful people.
This, just by the way, is Mike Jeffries:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” Mike told Salon in an old-ass interview that people keep quoting this week. Judging by the quality of his plastic surgery, he probably can’t move his mouth anymore, so maybe 2006 was the last time he was able to give an interview.
He goes on: “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.”
The ickiness of this high school version of exclusivity, where your social status is determined by how attractive you are and how much money your parents give you to blow at the mall, is palpable when you walk into one of their stores, which all blast techno music and smell like date rape. (Okay, I haven’t been into an Abercrombie store in about a decade, so maybe that accusation isn’t fair. They’ve probably kept up with the times and now blast dub step and smell like a fourteen-year-old boy screencapping your naked SnapChat.). The massive images of naked beautiful people leer down at you with the same expressions as the high school elite who at best would look right past you and at worst would decide to ruin your life for fun.
From their print ads to their pretty-people-only hiring policies to their unapologetically assholish CEO, Abercrombie’s message to their consumers comes down to this: You’re cool because of the things you have but didn’t earn, and you should DEFINITELY lord that over everyone else. OWN that vapidness!
It takes an evil genius to corner a market by being the one willing to appeal to its worst qualities, but that’s not what’s going on here. Mike Jeffries didn’t build a company by tapping into the psyche of a Mean Girl. He did it by actually being Regina George trapped in the body of an old gay man.
I mean, I think someone may have literally tested the theory that if you cut off all her hair, she’d look like a British man. Nope, it turns out. She looks like Jocelyn Wildenstein’s twin brother.
My point is that the lost member of The Plastics didn’t get to where he is by exploiting the teenage desire to latch onto any arbitrary signifier of coolness. He did it by being that teenager well into adulthood. He’s an elderly man who still says “dude” and doesn’t like to be around uglies. That jock who tripped you at graduation became wildly successful by NEVER CHANGING. In other words: We. Are. Fucked.
That said, if I go to my high school reunion and find that all the worst people now look like Mike Jeffries, then I guess there is some justice in this world. And we all know what happened to Regina George in the end.