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Are College Students Growing Wise to Abercrombie?

abercrombie_01I remember back in high school – and to a lesser extent college – all the cool kids wore the right name brands, and Abercrombie & Fitch was definitely one of them.

By my third or fourth year in college I had worked some internships, had some “real” jobs, and most of my classmates were started to dress a little less like college kids. By this point, Abercrombie’s allure was fading fast. Now that I’m out of the college environment I almost never see the brand’s trademark chest logos and moose insignia, and I’m definitely not in a hurry to make a stop in the overly loud and pungent store.

So, for a brand that has a very narrow demographic (older high school kids and younger college students), some degree of exclusivity might be a good thing. Still, not many people are impressed with CEO Mike Jeffries’ comments about Abercrombie not being for everyone – specifically people who are overweight.

Exclusive isn’t bad, saying stupid things is.

Plenty of designer labels don’t make sizes over a certain threshold, so Abercrombie’s choice to stop serving customers who wear more than a size 10 isn’t that strange. The part that is damning for the company are Jeffries’ comments. Specifically:

“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.”

While I’m sure plenty of snobby, designer brands say this kind of thing behind closed doors, you aren’t going to win many new fans saying stuff like this in public. Just a few days after Jeffries’ comments started getting press, the outrage and mockery began. One man began handing used Abercrombie clothing out to homeless people, and plenty others have voiced their disgust on social networks.

So, are students going to toss out the Abercrombie brand anytime soon? Maybe not, but either way, this should serve as a good reminder that some marketing strategies are best kept internal.

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