So in case you missed it, here is where we are at.
Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch shared his vision for the company in The Independent:
“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, and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
It was also revealed that instead of giving away faulty clothing, Abercrombie chooses to burn them so they are not worn by undesirable people.
Greg Karber, a writer in LA, reacted by starting a viral video campaign:
(In #fitchthehomeless Greg goes to his local charity store buys lots of A&F clothing, then takes it down to Skid Row and gives it to the homeless. He then tells others to do the same with any A&F clothing they have and to post the news on Twitter and Facebook.)
People have chosen to react to Greg’s video in two distinct ways, known as love it or hate it. There are many people praising Greg for his rebranding of A&F and are already unloading all this heinous clothing from their wardrobes. On the other hand there seem to be just as many, if not more saying there is something not quite right about reacting to Mike Jefferies’ philosophy in this way.
To be honest I’m somewhere in the middle.
It’s good to give clothes to the homeless, yes. In the same way it’s good to give food, shelter and time to the homeless. Do we need to do it on a video and post it onto Twitter? No. The problem is his plan although well meaning, may have been a little flawed. Imagine if I went out and gave A&F clothes to the ugliest or fattest people I could find because that is the opposite of what Jeffries wanted. I would be accused of the very same crime as Jeffries, a cruel discrimination. So it is no wonder that after his initial applause for ingenuity, Greg Karber is getting a rather negative response. The thing is I just can’t help feeling a bit sorry for the guy who actually stood up, did something and tried to face an injustice.
For the people writing negative reactions to #fitchthehomeless, I hope they are actually doing something about it, and will take their Fitch to the charity shop. I hope that companies will think more about how to be charitable and not demean their customers or community.
For the people who have packed their bags of clothes, iPhone in hand and are out to find some homeless people. I want them to think before they act and perhaps instead take them to a charity shop or a shelter without the video evidence.
Somebody has suggested instead of #fitchthehomeless maybe let’s just go with #ditchthefitch.
For me personally, I will think about what I’m buying. I’m not going to buy it for the label or to be in with the cool kids. I’m far too uncool for that; ‘I don’t belong’ in Mike Jeffries club but that is fine by me. It’s not just A&F that describes themselves and an exclusive or aspirational brand. Here in the UKbrands such as Jack Wills and Superdry also try to price people out of buying their clothes so that they appeal to a certain club of people. In the words of the rapper, Macklemore in Thrift Shop: “Fifty dollars for a t-shirt… I call that getting swindled and pimped, I call that getting tricked by business.”
Let’s use our money, our time and our influence wisely to benefit the people around us, those who have it all and those who need it all.