Being in the fitness industry, I’m always presented with lots of questions when it pertains to exercise, fat loss, etc…; but on occasion, I’m asked a few questions about public media matters that are somewhat related in the family tree of fitness.

Not too long ago the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, came out with some off-colored comments saying that:

           “He 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.’’

I posted this up on our Facebook page asking for people’s opinions on this topic and not only did I get some interesting comments, but I had QUITE a few people emailing me wanting my opinion on this matter.

Generally, I don’t dab in topics such as this because it’s too easy to create a firestorm of opinionated people just looking for a fight; if you don’t believe me, just go on Yahoo News and scroll down to the bottom and view people’s comments. But since I did take the time to ask for your opinion, I guess it only seems fair for me to state mine.

What do I think?

I’ll be blunt, but hear me out.

Mike Jeffries can say whatever the hell he wants and sell clothes to whomever he wants. As a business owner, he has the right to say and do those things even if it goes against the moral compass of the public.

It does not mean that it’s not going to come back and bite him in the ass, which we are seeing now with the cascade of hate comments this company has now coming their way.

  • Is Abercrombie marketing itself out to be an elitist brand? Yes
  • Is Mike Jeffries a douchbag? Yep, he just defined it.
  • Is he wrong as a business owner for being exclusionary? Nope.

I will say that I do NOT agree on his stance, nor his company’s stance, on what is “cool” and “beautiful,” but what he is doing is not different than another business out there trying to dominate a nitch in the marketplace.

In my opinion, what he should have done differently is just kept his mouth shut, he didn’t need to voice it. It was already pretty apparent what their market was when you went into their stores.

They project skinny, rich, elitist, so-cal kids- and they own that market; sad that there are enough of them to help that guy grow his business.

If you’re a loyalist to the Abercrombie brand then go do some squats and rethink your social circle.

Business Tactics

This is more of a fitness blog and I really don’t want to go too much on his business strategies of what he is trying to do, just know that ultimately what Jefferies is trying to create is an exclusionary market which in business is a powerful selling mantra.

Exclusion = Inclusion + Brand loyalty

We can’t be too surprised that this is what he wants and there are countless examples of exclusion by gender, body type, race, financial ability… the only difference is that Jeffries was more casually vocal about the demographic he is catering fashion merchandise towards.

I can think of several exclusion tactics used by brands other than Abercrombie. Remember FUBU, the ever popular clothing design company back in the ’90s? Heck, FUBU’s acronym stood for “For Urban Brother’s United” and later was mottoed to be “For Us By US”; that tacit helped their brand to explode in the early ’90s with a particular American youth demographic.

Even today we see examples of exclusion with plus size stores; “Hey come on it in! Shop here in a comfortable environment, built exclusively for you!” I don’t see any people huffing and puffing about their exclusion of smaller sizes, that is THEIR nitch.

The list can go on to Apple, Victoria’s Secret, Porsche, Planet Fitness. They ALL market their product to a specific demographic of American society; this has been going on LONG before Abercrombie and it will continue to go on.

I really don’t care what they think.


Well, I can’t fit into their clothes. lol

There XL looks like a smeadium from the Baby Gap on anyone who actually spends some time in the gym.

Anyone that works out here at RTC that has worn Abercrombie or Hollister in the past will see that after a bit of time with us, those clothes aren’t made for their new fit bodies even though their marketing may claim otherwise.

This goes back to a previous blog where we talked about being skinny vs. being fit <====

Most of their models are just skinny guys with abs; big difference from being fit with abs.

Do I think what Mike Jeffries is doing, by going after his perceived target market, is wrong? Nope, that is has been going on a long time with other business, he was just more vocal about it.

I again say that I don’t agree with his interpretation of cool and beautiful; I do feel he is WAY off base with where he stands and what he believes.

I have a completely different view on what is cool and beautiful that does NOT align with Jeffries, but what he thinks is no concern to me; the perception is just too shallow and narrow for my taste. I would rather see people be more concerned about what THEY thought about themselves than others’ opinions.

I think more people are upset of WHAT he had to say and HOW he said it thus making his viewpoints in complete disagreement with their (the pubic’s) personal viewpoint and people HATE to have that challenged or feel excluded.

But it’s his business, he can cater and sell to whomever he wants.

If you don’t like the type of “cool club” he is trying to persuade on you, then don’t pay the membership dues.


In Health and Awesomeness,

Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.

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