Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Put up or shut up

After my last tirade supporting Abercrombie and Fitch, things seemed to quiet down. It's not that I had anything to do with it, it's just that I wrote about it roughly 2 days after it happened and our attention span is only about 72 hours so within a day or so we moved onto the next slightly irritating cause du jour to scream about. Then last night, like a bad case of hemorrhoids, this A&F thing flared up again. The people posting about it are also a pain in my ass so the hemorrhoid reference holds true.

This time it's not about him or his cause. It's about retaliation toward owner of A&F. This hits an all-time high in ridicularity (my made up and funnier version of ridiculousness, add it to the lexicon). I'd like to smack every person participating in this. Here's the deal.

Owners of A&F clothing are now organizing a movement (I use the word movement to liken it to bowel movement because it has the same value) in which they donate their A&F clothes to homeless people. This is counter to the CEO's intentions for his clothes. So by repurposing the clothes they can rebrand A&F. This is asinine for a multitude of reasons.

  1. You PAID for those clothes and they were NOT cheap. Giving them away is flushing money down the toilet. If you have money to burn, I accept cash, checks AND credit cards.
  2. Because your used clothes show up on homeless people, nobody is confusing the vision of the company. We will not suddenly think that homeless people are buying this stuff directly.
  3. The trendy nature of these brands also mean that you can give everything you own to homeless people and A&F will just make the new line, which is just as exclusive as the one you gave away.
I shouldn't be surprised at this though. This is the nature of America. We never rise to someone else's level; we bring them down to us. So he makes a brand and turns it into what it is today. Some people out there don't like it. What do they do? Try to ruin him and his company.

You want a clothing brand to be ubiquitous and available to people of all shapes, sizes and financial means? Make one. I make it sound easier than it is, I know, but do you think it was easy for Jeffries? Nope. He started a company like any other designer/entrepreneur had to. And you should too. Or you should shut your trap.

This is where I get pissed off. Just because you don't like how he does business you really go out of your way to devalue and ruin his products and company? What ever happened to if you've got nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all? Who charged you to take up the torch for fat and poor people everywhere? You feel bad that they are left out? Awwww... isn't that sweet. How come your bleeding heart isn't storming the gates of Mercedes Benz and Harvard University looking for free cars and admission to broke, stupid and lazy people everywhere? What is the demarcation point between social causes and "not my business?" I don't get it.

So put up or shut up. Make a difference on your own or leave this guy the hell alone. He made a perfectly legal choice for his business. It's not even immoral or unethical when you really consider it. It's just strategic targeting. There are brands that appeal to all types, this just doesn't happen to be one of them.

So save your money, save your time and do something constructive with both. Trying to ruin his brand is destructive and helps nobody in the long run.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Shopping spree at A&F

When this picture popped up in my newsfeed once, I chose to ignore it. Now it has proliferated over the course of 2 days and I could no longer sit silent. Buckle up, this is going to make a lot of very unhappy.

For those of you who don't know what this is about or can't put 2 and 2 together and come up with 4 based on the title, here's the lowdown. The CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch doesn't like fat chicks and subsequently, does not have clothing to accomodate plus sizes in his A&F stores. Naturally, thin skinned America has risen up with their opinions to shoot this man down.

Before we get into the meat of the content, let's just take a moment to realize that Americans are using their constitutionally protected right of voicing their opinions to say that he shouldn't be able to have or voice his own. The hypocrisy of so many people just knows no boundaries. Ok, we got that out of the way.

First of all, he is free to do whatever he wants. It's his business. This isn't the first time he's been in trouble in the news. There was a lawsuit when he made flight attendants on his Gulfstream wear very specific clothes and discriminated against those who couldn't or wouldn't. What you're telling me is that it's inappropriate to make employees wear company clothing to represent your brand while working on the company jet. I think his rules are genius branding moves, but what do I know about branding. I didn't co-found a company based around it or anything.

But that's not what's got people hot at the moment. It's all about his no fat chicks policy. I have a ton of respect for this guy, not because of the content of his opinion, but because he's got the rocks to express it. He started a company based on certain things and stuck to them and it seems to be working out pretty well for him. Everyone is also not focusing on part of the quote, because it's devastating to their case for outrage. He said, "Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either."

So everyone is outraged because he caters to a certain demographic. At one point did it become ok to demand every business offer every product for every person? I'm going to a Mercedes-Benz dealer today and demanding they make me a pickup truck because I've always wanted a pickup truck and I want to own a Mercedes. Maybe I'll stop at McDonald's for a bowl of soup on the way back. As I'm typing this a commercial for Soma comes on TV. Apparently, they make bras (not my specialty), but they start at 34D and get bigger from there. I would actually LOVE to take someone with small breasts into that store and watch them demand Soma make a smaller line of bras to fit.

This man has carved out a niche and it seems to be working for him. Does his execution suck? Nobody will debate that. Does he choose the nicest words or delivery of his message? Of course not, but that's the magic of America. If you want the opportunity to call him asshole, he has to have the right to say asshole-ish things.

By the way, I heard that everybody who applies to Ivy League colleges will be getting accepted regardless of GPA and it's been proven that the lack of exclusivity will, in no way, diminish the value of the diploma.

Not everyone comes in first place. Not everyone gets everything they want. Life is full of disappointments. When you don't fit within the confines of a system, we don't change the system. You either fit or you don't. You'll fit where you truly belong or you'll choose to alter yourself to do so. Your level of self acceptance, does not determine my target market for products.

So, in the face of all of this nonsense, I want nothing more than to walk into Abercrombie & Fitch and buy tons of clothing and I would love for the CEO to watch me buy it and congratulate him on building a globally recognizable brand, isolating a particular demographic that is lucrative and capitalizing on it, all while standing by his convictions as people say nasty things about him. Just remember, while you're bitching about him from home, he is wildly successful. He's gotta be doing something right. Feel free to make your own brand for everyone. Big box stores will be happy to carry them at discount prices.