Abercrombie & Fitch is known for their risqué and cheeky ad campaigns, but this week, the brand has found itself in hot water with customers and online users for an entirely different reason.
When speaking with Business Insider on Friday, Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail, claimed that A&F CEO Mike Jeffries "doesn't want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn't want his core customers to see people who aren't as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they're one of the 'cool kids.'"
A rep for the company did not immediately respond for comment, but Lewis' interpretation of the A&F philosophy has gotten a lot of pick-up.
And what "cool kids" might Lewis be referring to? Business Insider pointed to a 2006 interview Jeffries gave to Salon. "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids," the clothing retailer explained. "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."
He went on to expand on their business, saying "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."
While Jeffries' quotes certainly shed light on the brand's ads, it's not clear how much Lewis' comments reflect his own opinions of A&F and how much they accurately reflected the brand's actual attitude.
But here's one thing we can all agree on: If that's the brand's true position, it's clearly going to alienate a lot of people.