So, after all of last summerâ€™s brouhaha last summer when the CEO said â€œnope, no fatties, never ever ever,â€ insisting a plus size line would damage their brand. I said at the time of the first announcement: â€œThis has of course been cared about by no one, ever â€“ except for the designers that seem hell bent on losing money.â€
The near immediate stock dip over the summer provided some of the best Schadenfreude in 2013.
Even so, they seem determined to make their plus sizes a thing â€“ although there is speculation it will backfire. Abercrombie & Fitch, in true douchebag style, has been horrible to just about everyone involved in their company somehow. In a twisted way, they may have done those of us that wear plus sizes a favor by rejecting us for so long. Because theyâ€™ve got some really bad corporate karma going on. Really bad.
Over at the investment site Motley Fool, Michael Carter names their sins:
â€œSome of the company’s issues have involved forcing employees to buy and wear Abercrombie clothing without reimbursement, the hiring practices of minorities, the mistreatment of customers, labor practices, controversial product themes and advertising, and more recently, the infamous 2011 push-up bra aimed at seven-year olds.â€
This may be an abbreviated list. Who knows what nonsense never makes its way back to OSHA or to state employment commissions.
In addition, it seems that misogyny is indeed part of Abercrombie & Fitchâ€™s branding. So you can guess what quality of design we might expect to receive. This gem, from Deborah Bass at the Decatur Herald Review, really highlights Abercrombie & Fitchâ€™s attitude towards their female customers:
â€œThe brand doesn’t offer XL or XXL women’s clothing or pants over a size 10 for women. However, the brand does offer XL and XXL clothing for men because Abercrombie & Fitch has said that it wanted to provide sizes for jocks but assumed that female athletes wouldn’t be larger than a standard large. For years, people grumbled but nothing changed.â€
A significant part of A&F branding has been to behave like jerks. They are often grouped in with Urban Outfitters (of no plus sizes and equally bad karma) and The Gap (of the Old Navy that relegates its plus sizes to online only.)Â While having more choices in the plus size sphere is always a relief, the attitude of A&F marketing/CEO and the way their closest competitors have treated their desired target market â€“ let alone us, the undesired but new target market â€“ fails to inspire confidence.
It seems like A&F is also taking a page from Old Navy and only offering their coming plus size clothing online. So, like the Gap/Old Navy, they want our money but want us swept out of sight â€“ thus protecting their â€œbrand.â€
Tony Posnanski of the Anti-Jared weight loss blog points out the most serious problem with Abercrombie & Fitch and their entire niche of the market:
â€œMany companies realize it after the controversy of their fat-shaming hurts their bottom line. These companies are calling people fat when they are not fat. Is wearing a size 12 fat? No. Many women run marathons who wear a size 12. Many women work out six days a week and eat clean and wear a size 12. Many women do CrossFit and wear a size 12. In my eyes, size 12 is not plus-size; it’s average.â€
As of December 3, Abercrombie and Fitch stock fell nearly 30%. I had joked about losing money, but I expected such a burn to go slower. Apparently investors tolerant of the other shenanigans have lost patience with the madness â€“ Abercrombie & Fitch is the cool kid no more. With such severe losses, they have to be willing to try anything â€“ and so they are grasping for the plus size customer they previously refused â€¦because in the minds of their CEO et. al, we fatties will take anything.
Abercrombie expects to release their extended sizes line in spring of 2014. Someone should tell them that Apple Bottoms beat them to printing â€œPhatâ€ across our asses.