• Thu, May 30 2013

Working For Abercombie And Fitch Sounds Terrible

abercrombie and fitch

Remember when Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries said he didn’t want larger people wearing his company’s clothing? Sure you do! It was basically because they weren’t cool enough and he was worried it might bring down the brand. Turns out that he doesn’t want employees wearing large clothing, either. A former female employee at Abercombie and Fitch writes in Salon:

My fascination with the politics of clothing size began in 2004 when I worked at A&F corporate as a merchant in their outerwear division. Employees were expected to dress “on brand” at work, which meant always wearing A&F clothes from the current season. I squeezed myself into the second-largest A&F women’s size available — an 8 — and dieted to stay that size. It terrified me to know that if I gained weight and sized out of their women’s clothes, I’d have to wear ill-fitting men’s T-shirts and sweatshirts to work every day, as I’d seen other “large” women do.

 

A job where you have to diet to wear your work uniform seems… pretty awful. Especially when that is a low paying retail job, and not a very high paying job where you have to wear something stupid (I used to have to wear a sexy pirate outfit, but it paid really well). The writer also goes on to note that:

According to data collected 2007-2010 by the CDC, the average waist measurement of a 19-year-old woman is 33.6 inches. The largest women’s size is a “Large” or “12” (not a 10, as has been incorrectly claimed pretty much everywhere). The waist measurement of this size is 31 inches. In other words, the average 19-year-old girl is too fat to shop at A&F.

Running a clothing brand that most people in their early 20′s cannot shop at just seems spectacularly dumb. It’s a bit like the scene in Mean Girls where a clothing store only sells clothes that come in in a 1, 3, or 5 except it is real life. 

Picture via Abercrombie and Fitch

 

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  • Emily

    I used to work at A&F during my senior year of high school in southern California and they called the guys and girls who worked the floor “models” and then the “uglier”/”bigger” people worked in the stock room. This was a kind of unspoken placement by management and now, in my wiser years, I see how offensive and wrong this is. Hate that company.

    • Katlyn

      Yes. I worked at a Hollister (their offshoot) in Ohio for a couple months (as long as I could stomach it) in college as a “model.” Ridiculous. They wouldn’t even let me leave the front room, as in I was actually NOT allowed to step away from greeting people at the front of the shop. I quit when they asked if they could take photos of me and a friend/fellow employee to send in to corporate while requesting that I wear specific makeup and clothes colors in the pictures– everyone at the store said that corporate rewarded those stores with the most attractive staff. Gross, gross, gross.

  • Eileen

    Wait, the typical 19-year-old has a waist measurement of 33.6 inches? Really?

    Honestly, I have more of a problem with a retailer requiring employees to wear its own clothing (which I think is actually illegal in some states?) than with only carrying particular sizes. I mean, sure, don’t show anyone else’s logo, but I hate the idea of a company demanding that to work for them you must buy their shit.

    • Tusconian

      I tend to find these “average” statistics pretty useless. For example, the “average” woman wears a 12/14/16/whatever the person citing the statistic wants the average woman to wear, but the average woman is also supposed to be five foot four and 140 pounds, which for most women would not be close to a 14 or 16. Then they use these statistics to talk about a retailer that almost exclusively markets to teenagers, who are smaller than adults even when they’ve stopped growing, and most of them haven’t finished puberty. If you’re targeting your brand at people who still wear training bras, the size of the average 45 year old with 3 kids is a useless statistic to throw around. The fact that pant size and waist measurement are almost 100% certainly self reported (I honestly never, ever believe a woman who can say with absolute certainty what size she always wears or how much she weighs down to the pound) and are pretty variable and subjective just makes those figures pretty impossible to accurately measure. And which average are they using? The author says “half of 19 year old women can’t wear Abercrombie pants,” but that only works if the average they’re using is a median. To judge the average size of any selection of people, you’d also need a mean, mode, and range to get a good look at the size.

      Plus, the “proper” size of these pants are completely inaccurate anyway, and not a reflection of how pants actually fit. I would say most people with a 33 inch waist could probably squeeze into a pair of pants marked as size 31, if it didn’t fit them perfectly. I’ve got a lot of issues with Abercrombie and Fitch, but subjective, nonscientific, questionable “statistics” aren’t helping anyone’s case, and they don’t make sense. Especially since, ah, there wasn’t nearly as much of an uproar when the same company was discriminating against people of color and the disabled in much more serious ways.

    • Eileen

      True (totally forgot about the median thing there for a second). Not to mention Abercrombie’s clothes are pretty expensive, so really, we only need to be dealing with the percentage of the population that can afford to spend $60 on a pair of shorts – and rich people in this country tend to be thinner than poor people.