A recent book titled The New Rules of Retail, co-authored by Robin Lewis, has highlighted teen retailer Abercombie & Fitch's marketing strategy that excludes fat girls from their customer base. The popular brand does not stock XL or XXL sizes in women's clothing as they want only skinny and beautiful women wearing their clothes and feel exclusive.
Even though the traditional idea of "only skinny people are beautiful" is a thing of the past, Abercombie & Fitch is still sticking to it. The company's leading rivals H&M and American Eagle cater to larger women and H&M even introduced a plus-size model in its latest swimwear collection.
H&M's standard collection of clothing goes up to size 16 and American Eagle's goes up to 18, while Abercombie & Fitch's biggest size for women is only size 10.
However, the company does list size XL and XXL in their men's collection as they wish to cater to beefy and muscular football players and wrestlers.
The company's attitude towards plus-sized women is not surprising. The company's CEO Mike Jeffries has previously said that their aim is to cater to only the cool and popular kids.
"He doesn't want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people. He doesn't want his core customers to see people who aren't as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they're one of the 'cool kids,'" Lewis explained to the Business Insider.
In a 2006 Salon interview, Jeffries had spoken about his company's marketing strategy and explained his target audience.
"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," Jeffires told the website, not too bothered about losing customers.
He called the companies that try to cater to all categories of consumers boring. He said: "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."
Jeffries, who has received a lot of backlash for his traditional concept of beauty, said he has no hesitations of basing his company on sex appeal. "It's almost everything. 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.
It seems like Jeffries should be ready to cater to only a small part of the market as 67 percent of the apparel purchasing population are under the plus-sized label, noted the Business Insider.