Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Apparel for Good-looking People

Image credit:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2320868/Thin-beautiful-customers-ONLY-How-Abercrombie--Fitch-doesnt-want-larger-people-shopping-stores.html

Abercrombie & Fitch, which only employs 'good looking people' and doesn't make women's sizes above large, has been accused of purposefully excluding plus-sized customers.

Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail, told Business Insider the retailer's 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,” Lewis added. “People who wear his clothing should feel like they're one of the ‘cool kids’.”

Jeffries did tell Salon in a 2006 interview: 'That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.'

In 2004, the company was sued for giving positions to white applicants, to the exclusion of minorities; and in June 2009, British student Riam Dean, who was born without a left forearm, won approximately $12,000 in an employment tribunal.

Jeffries sees it as good branding to exclude particular shoppers.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he explained 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”.

He had argued that ostracizing some customers, by using sex and six-packs to sell clothes, leaves his loyal customers wanting more.

'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,' he said. I call this, misplaced targeting.

Maybe, somebody should tell Jeffries that plus-size, generally referring to US 14 and above, makes up 67 percent of America's purchasing population. Or is he only interested in securing niche business? Obviously, he doesn’t care about alienating potential customers.

I am of the view that we should consider the ethical ramifications with this approach to target marketing. It is an issue that concerns size discrimination; it may also be exploitative to some degree.

Last Saturday, a busload of BBS and Diploma students from SUN-U went on a field trip to Robinsons The Gardens at The Boulevard, MidValley City. The objective was for them to know retail concepts because they are expected to embark on a research project as part of their course requirements. It was really educational and not only the students but I too had an enjoyable time. Check out the photos:

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