Abercrombie & Fitch CEO posts statement on Facebook, stores accused of being unfriendly to disabled
Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press
It's been quite the month for Mike Jeffries, CEO of clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch. Since his statement from 2006 began to circulate on social media, the company has received comments from concerned parents, angry teenagers and former customers.
After being quiet for quite some time, Jeffries made a statement in response to the media, posting it to the company's Facebook page. Although Jeffries' previous comment cited the company's goal of selling its clothes to "cool" people, in his latest statement, Jeffries writes that his company is "completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics."
The post reads, "A note from Mike, our CEO:
"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."
The post has been shared more than 1,000 times, has been liked by almost 4,000 people and has received more than 3,000 comments. Several responders commented simply to mock Jeffries' apology.
Sorcha Quinn responded, "How can 'We don't like fat people working in our stores or wearing our clothes' be taken out of context? Seems pretty clear to me."
Simon Le wrote, "I expect a public apology via video or bigger. Your apology on Facebook won't make up for how much you've offended."
Others declared their distaste for the brand and determination to boycott any clothing that represents such ideals.
Emma Marr commented, "I'm un-liking your page and won't ever spend one cent on your brand again."
Hayley O'Brien wrote, "Just like your clothes, I'm not buying this apology."
Jeffries' company has also made headlines for legal issues being debated in Denver. According to the Associated Press, a federal judge ruled that nearly 250 Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and J.M. Hollister LLC clothing stores have been unfriendly to customers who have disabilities.
Lawyer Amy Robertson compared the way these individuals have been treated by such clothing stores to historic instances of racial segregation.
The fight began back in 2009, when Julie Farrar, who uses a wheelchair, found it difficult to enter the clothing store with her daughter. Farrar was forced to enter through a side door because there was no wheelchair access available in the front of the store, which led Farrar, along with several others, to file a lawsuit.
Hollister attorneys objected to the statement by Robertson when she referenced the side entrances as "a separate, segregated entrance." Attorneys said this description was "grossly inaccurate and needlessly inflammatory." The companies also expressed that they had complied with all construction standards.
The Associated Press reported that in a response filed Friday, attorneys expressed the need for the judge to find a solution that would satisfy both needs. As for remodeling existing Hollister stores, attorneys for the company said that it would not be an option due to the cost and disruption for customers.
"The companies said it is not physically possible to install ramps located in shopping malls, and closing off elevated entrances would be 'the worst and least acceptable' of the three solutions because it would be confusing to customers and cause 'immense ... loss in sales and revenue' and 'permanent damage to the Holister brand,’” the Associated Press reported.
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