Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch are continuing the apology tour, once again telling those angered by comments from CEO Mike Jeffries that they’re sorry for any offense they caused.
Earlier this month, comments made by Jeffries during a a 2006 interview with Salon surfaced, and they hit with a thud. Jeffries said that yes, his store is exclusionary, and implied that their clothes aren’t for unattractive people.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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….”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,” he said.
Last week, Jeffries posted a note to Abercombie’s Facebook page:
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.
And now, the company has apologized again.
“We look forward to continuing this dialogue and taking concrete steps to demonstrate our commitment to anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion. We want to reiterate that we sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by comments we have made in the past which are contrary to these values,” said the company after a meeting with protesters at their Columbus, Ohio headquarters.
When controversy like this strikes a major company, apologies don’t hurt. But can they repair their image and make thing right with those who feel that message hurts people? That remains to be seen. What do you think?