Abercrombie & Fitch is on a quest for 'cool kids,' according to the LA Times, so much so that the store refuses to make clothes for plus-sized women and girls. But, Abercrombie may need to redefine "cool" if it wants to survive in this economy, because the majority of fashion consumers cannot fit the clothes sold by the trendy teen brand.
Abercrombie & Fitch's choice to exclude plus-sized women is an anomaly considering the success which stores like Forever 21 and H&M are experiencing since offering their products to larger women. It seems that the policy could also be bad for business since 67 percent of the purchasing population is plus sized.
The brand does sell up to an XXL in male clothing, likely because men who are big and tall are considered conventionally attractive, at least by Abercrombie & Fitch. However, even men beyond an XXL can't fit into clothes at Abercrombie.
In the U.S. alone, the obesity rate is 28.5 percent, but not everyone who wears a size 10 or larger is obese. Accounting for the number of healthy people who run on the larger side, Abercrombie is alienating a huge number of potential consumers.
This comes as no surprise to people who have been watching the popular teen brand since its infancy. In a 2006 interview with Salon, Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie's CEO, said that his business thrives on catering to one segment of the population and excluding the others.
"Candidly, we go after the cool kids," he said. "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."
There it is, folks.
What Jeffries has yet to comment on recently, though, is that the clothing market — especially the demographic Abercrombie & Fitch targets — is changing. In 2006, he praised his marketing strategy while making pointed remarks about companies that targeted "everybody."
"The 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," said Jeffries.
Perhaps Abercrombie will have a change of heart, as it watches other stores in its niche market achieve success by using more inclusive tactics.
Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail, told Business Insider that it's unlikely that Abercrombie will change. "Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they're about to jump on a surfboard."