Jezebel presents a pretty thorough history of just how mean Abercrombie & Fitch has always been, from hiring practices to their in-store experience. Featured is a Salon piece from 2006 and I was once again reminded that Abercrombie's CEO Mike Jeffries really is icky. More important, it's obvious now that, even as he was sporting flip-flops and calling everyone "dude," he was completely out of touch with popular culture:
"'In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,' he says. '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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny.'"
See? Mike Jeffries never picked up on the emergence of the nerd and never sensed there would ever be a backlash against mean people. (Interestingly, Kanye West made this same mistake.) Even in 2006 Jeffries could have at least looked at top movies like 2005's Harry Potter or 2004's Mean Girls and perceived a certain smart-nerd-vs-cruel-kid theme at work. Instead he kept tanning. And he and his company were totally unprepared for a world that celebrates the not-so-cool, fat and skinny kids of Ugly Betty, Big Bang Theory and Glee. Why didn't he pick up on this? Why have his failing stores still not picked up on this? Because until they do, their merchandise, their atmosphere and their employees will seem out of step.
Or they can just keep trying "to figure out what the next hot trend is and push that."