Abercrombie & Fitch CEO's remarks spur online petition


Mike Jeffries has said that his company's clothes are not meant for plus-size people. This exclusionary philosophy is something that customers have felt for many years. Consumers who walk into an Abercrombie & Fitch store can see plenty of fit models and employees - but they will not find any extra large sizes for women. The largest pants size in women's clothes is a size 10.

Over 1,000 people have signed an online petition boycotting Abercrombie & Fitch. Petition organizers touched on topics like teen eating disorders and self-esteem, saying stores like Abercrombie & Fitch do not help with such issues.

"The things that this company is supporting are things that I can't morally stand behind, and I think the consumers of America don't want to stand behind it either," said Benjamin O'Keefe, who started the online petition.

Chrissy Kemmer used to work as an in-store model for Abercrombie & Fitch and says the retailer definitely wants a specific kind of customer.

"It was really tailored to people that were smaller," Kemmer described.

Kemmer said when she began to gain a few pounds, she was told she didn't quite fit the store.

"When they told me that the reason that they hired me as a model was because they only wanted smaller girls, at the time I was smaller, I felt bad when I gained a little bit of weight," she said.

Kemmer now works as a plus-size model and says Abercrombie is sending young people the wrong message - a message the store seemingly isn't ashamed of.

"We go after the attractive all-American kid...A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes] and they can't belong. Are they exclusionary? Absolutely," said Mike Jeffries, the CEO of the controversial retailer, during a 2006 interview.

Some consumers say they're shocked to hear a retailer being so openly discriminatory.

"That's unbelievable. That shouldn't be said in the first place," said Santa Ana resident Adam Daniels.

Customers say such exclusionary tactics are unfair.

"America is definitely not a size zero. We're in a modern age, where everybody is basically more curvy, more shape," said Jeff Major, another Santa Ana resident.

Robin Lewis, co-author of the new book, "The New Rules of Retail," says it's not surprising the store doesn't carry these sizes, considering the attitude of the company's CEO.

"He doesn't want anybody in the store that doesn't fit that cool, young and sexy definition," Lewis said. "He is a brilliant visionary and he really crystallized this core consumer he was going after."

Many consumers do not agree, saying a store that markets to teens should be sending a healthier message.

"We need to embrace every body type and we need to know that big is beautiful, as well as small is beautiful and everywhere in between," said Kemmer.

Eyewitness News reached out to Abercrombie & Fitch, but the company was not available for comment.

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