TL;DR: Jes of The Militant Baker is my hero this week for standing up against bigotry and bias in the world of fashion–and doing it in a classy, badass way.
First we had the Abercrombie CEO telling the unvarnished truth: his clothes ARE elitist and exclusionary. He doesn’t want to make clothes of a certain size to maintain this cachet. No shit, Sherlock, amirite?
“That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. 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,” Jeffries said in a 2006 interview with Salon.
He has since apologized (in the way snotty kids will spit out the right words to get their toy back so they can continue their bad behavior): “A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers.”
Let’s be clear–as a businessman, this is completely his right. He’s a douche for blatantly encouraging this sense of elitism in his clientele (many of whom are too young or naive or desperate for status to think otherwise–reminds you of those wonderful high school days, huh? Anecdotally, Hollister–A&F’s sister store–has a well-rumored-but-as-yet-addressed issue of workplace discrimination. You can get hired there if you’re not a skinny white “California” girl, but you’ll be working in the back.)
BUT yes, it’s his prerogative.
And it’s our prerogative to make him look like an ass for it and to not shop at Abercrombie or Hollister. Discrimination sucks big donkey balls, and there are better places to spend my hard-earned money and fit this sexy ass into some curvy girl jeans. Like H&M, whose new plus-size bikini model is gorgeous and makes me covet all their swimwear.
Of all the responses, the best, more truthful, and most poignant came from The Militant Baker in her open letter to Mike Jeffries.
While I really must insist you read Jes’s full letter to Mike, here’s a brilliant snip:
“Never in our culture do we see sexy photo shoots that pair short, fat, unconventional models with not short, not fat, professional models. To put it in your words: “unpopular kids” with “cool kids”. It’s socially acceptable for same to be paired with same, but never are contrasting bodies positively mixed in the world of advertisement. The juxtaposition of uncommonly paired bodies is visually jarring, and, even though I wish it didn’t, it causes viewers to feel uncomfortable. This is largely attributed to companies like yours that perpetuate the thought that fat women are not beautiful. This is inaccurate, but if someone were to look through your infamous catalog, they wouldn’t believe me.”
Additional kudos for the stunning photography of Liora K in Tucson.