Money & Business

Abercrombie & Fitch Sizes Spur Association to Lead Boycott

By / Jun 20, 2013 (photo by Don H. Lee/Flickr)

Abercrombie & Fitch’s decision not to sell or market clothing to plus-size consumers has provoked the National Eating Disorders Association to lead a boycott of the fashion retailer.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s approach to plus-size clothing has landed it in hot water, and the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is speaking out.

NEDA has launched a boycott and petition against the fashion retailer, and while the clothing company has introduced an anti-bullying campaign, the group says that’s not  enough.

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Differing standards: While competitors like H&M and American Eagle sell plus-size clothing, Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t. The company says that’s intentional. In a 2006 interview with Salon, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries said, “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.”

The boycott: The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has taken the fashion retailer’s sizing practices to heart and initiated a  boycott. According to a press release from NEDA, the association met with A&F leadership in May to discuss the issue, but felt its concerns were disregarded. The company has started an anti-bullying campaign and scholarship program in response to criticism, but the association says those moves don’t address the issue. “Making young people feel excluded is not smart marketing,” NEDA President Lynn Grefe says in the press release. “An anti-bullying campaign by A&F is an oxymoron. We are disappointed.” With increased media attention, NEDA’s boycott is growing.

The petition: Benjamin O’Keefe, NEDA’s Proud2Bme youth program ambassador, has started an online petition at Change.org directed to Jeffries: “Stop telling teens they aren’t beautiful; make clothes for teens of all sizes!” O’Keefe’s petition states that A&F’s exclusion of larger sizes in women’s clothing and limits in its menswear are wrongheaded. “The company lacks diversity and inclusion and discriminates against a major portion of its consumer base,” he writes. “We were clear in our demands: Make products for and embrace consumers of all sizes. The battle against bullying is an imperative one, but by refusing to make larger sizes, they are failing to see that they are still being the bullies on the playground.” The company has yet to comment on the petition, which now has more than 77,000 signatures.

Jasmine McGee

Jasmine McGee is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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