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Abercrombie & Fitch controversy hits CEO Mike Jeffries

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   May 9, 2013 at 1:51 PM   |   Comments

May 9 (UPI) -- The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch is in hot water this week over his clothing line's refusal to stock plus-size options for women in an alleged attempt to keep his brand exclusive to the cool kids.

Abercrombie doesn't stock XL or XXL options for women, even as its competitors such as H&M and American Eagle add bigger sizes and a plus-size-specific lines.

CEO Mike Jeffries "doesn't want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people," Robin Lewis, co-author of "The New Rules of Retail," told Business Insider. "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.'"

Although Abercrombie refused to respond to Lewis's comments, in 2006, Jeffries had no qualms copping to his company's aim towards the conventional definition of beautiful people.

"That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores," Jeffries told Salon. "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 every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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."

Abercrombie is an outlier, though, as more clothing companies aim to tap into the so-called plus-size market (Women's size 14 to 36), which may include nearly two-thirds of customers.

"We have outgrown the traditional definition of plus-size, old-(looking) muumuus and loose-fitting clothes," Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group Inc, told the Chicago Tribune in 2012.

The Centers for Disease Control say more than 35 percent of Americans are considered obese.

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