This was a troubling week for Abercrombie & Fitch and its company, Hollister. Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries’ statements about catering to cool kids went viral after a Business Insider story addressed the brand’s discriminatory practices. Following media evisceration, unfavorable memes, A&F clothes being distributed to homeless people to change the brand’s “image” and a Change.org petition, Jeffries released a statement Wednesday on Facebook.
It is in its entirety below:
I want to address some of my comments that have been circulating from a 2006 interview. While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics.
Despite the public relations social media move, some consumers are irreversibly turned off. Others say that Jeffries’ approach mirrors the same biases seen in everyday society. The company’s “cool kids” favoritism has received considerable attention during the same time that a federal judge ruled that hundreds of Hollister stores violate the Americans with Disabilities Act for having entrances that are inadequate for patrons with wheelchairs.
Although Judge Wiley Daniel ordered A&F to work alongside disability rights advocates to improve access to the stores, both sides have not reached an agreement, the Colorado Independent reported.
Some view the brand’s legal, commercial and societal troubles as karmic. A Politic365 commenter wrote, “I would like to say to [A&F] that God don’t like ugly.” The reader continued. “Well I guess you are finding out the hard way.”