Wright Words: An open letter from a dad to Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries

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  • michellemonty farmington, MO
    May 22, 2013 12:01 p.m.

    This open letter was fantastic and true. My children although thin enough to wear those clothes know that clothes are just that clothes. They do not define who you are as a person. This is one company that will never be a part of our families shopping experience.

    May 18, 2013 6:20 p.m.

    The most cogent argument in this whole discussion comes from estreetshuffle, Window Rock, AZ, home of the Navajo Tribal Government. We'd all be better off learning what the Navajos mean by their term "hozho", which we loosely translate into English as "beauty." It's one of those translation problems: the meaning of the term gets lost in the process. But some of the lost meaning comes through in the English phrase "beauty is more than skin deep." estreetshuffle, if you know anything about this (and I suspect you do, if you're a Trading Post shopper,") enlighten the rest of us further!

    We'd all be better off learning not to equate "beauty" with the latest fashion or physical appearance. True beauty is much deeper than that.

  • pmccombs Orem, UT
    May 18, 2013 4:33 p.m.

    Ah, Mr. Wright. Capitalist, eh? You could do with a lesson from our friendly Amish Jihadist, Tripp York, who recently wrote on the very subject of A&F. Perhaps you'd care to look him up. He was writing to fellows just like you!

    It turns out, you see, that under the so-called "free market" system to which you yourself pay homage, corporations do not actually tell anyone "what is beautiful." No, not at all! Here is the little secret: The market tells corporations what the market thinks is beautiful. It does this with its money.

    So, Mr. Wright, it is we who have made Mike Jeffries. Our money made him and told him just what to say and think. He is a reflection of us, who are perhaps a little too self-conscious about the brands we dress our kids in. That's the thing about capitalism.

    You're welcome.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 17, 2013 8:25 a.m.

    I'd rather buy clothes from a garage sale.

    May 17, 2013 6:41 a.m.

    [It's troubling how many people seem to thrive on bitterness and contention. It is possible to have conversations about interesting and important things without attacking other people.]

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    May 15, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    Thank you Jason for another well-written article and for being willing to call out A&F for their disturbing lack social decency.

    Your sister gave us a copy of your "Christmas Jars" book a few years ago. The contrast between that story, and the message A&F is sending out couldn't be more stark.

  • LJohnson Los Angeles, CA
    May 15, 2013 3:45 p.m.

    Love it!! We don't shop there. My kids don't shop there. We live in LA, and we're cool but we're also humble and respectful. We don't have stars on thars. We don't exclude and we don't divide. A & F is ridiculous. Its all show. It has no value or values.

  • RBN Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    Anybody besides me sick of people like Dwayne overusing the word "bully"?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2013 2:45 p.m.

    Here is the predatory nature of capitalism in terms most can understand.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 15, 2013 1:53 p.m.

    Hi Kellie Buckner – Just saw your comment to me. Capitalism is intrinsically a class-based system. A capitalist, for example, is a person/people distinguished from the common classes on the basis of the fact that they own capital. The capitalist employs people from the lower class systems, as labor to earn wages, while the capitalist realizes a profit, ie, an increase in their stock of capital. It is informative because Mr. Wright fails to acknowledge that motivation driving Abercrombie & Fitch’s marketing is to in fact maximize their profits. They do so literally by exploiting the class systems established by capitalism. How do they do this? By providing a message to society that one way to distinguish yourself along this class-system, is to buy their clothes and shop in their stores. These people “favor capitalism”, and we call them consumers!

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2013 11:43 a.m.

    It's not capitalism, it's consumerism. And this consumer can easily pass by A&F.

  • Demisana South Jordan, UT
    May 15, 2013 11:08 a.m.

    I still remember overhearing a conversation in middle school about how embarrassed a girl was that her mother had taken her into a Kmart store - what if someone had seen her there? How much garbage I had to take from other kids because my clothes weren't fashionable or expensive - I didn't own a pair of designer jeans.

    For those above who are guys (which I'm guessing from the screen names is most of you), you have no idea how nasty girls can be to each other over clothes. They better be in style, name brand, expensive and bought at the right store. A&F just encourages that kind of behavior. As well as marketing sexualized clothes to young girls, which is equally damaging, teaching them that their most important feature is their body - and it better be super skinny, tanned, the right amount of curves and they all better be exposed as much as legally possible.

    Meanwhile, I'll keep my kids in schools with uniforms and teach them the opposite, while feeding them healthy and encouraging them to be active.

  • John Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2013 11:04 a.m.

    [they need a Pop-Tart. Most of them look like their legs could fit into the paper sleeve of a Pixy Stix.]

    What a hypocrite! The author complains about Abercrombie and Fitch trying to shame people for the way they look, but then he does the exact same to the kids that work their (most of them are pretty young).

    Envy looks bad on anybody.

  • lotstosay Cleveland Heights, OH
    May 15, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    Dwayne in Provo, sounds like you were never bullied, and that is really great. A bully is someone who calls you horrible names, often in front of others, in order to humiliate you and to somehow make himself feel more important. A bully leaves lasting scars on victims. If the author believes the models/sales associates at A&F could use a few extra calories in their diets because they border on being too thin, that is opinion, not bullying. At any rate, I will not let my teenage daughter shop at A&F or Hollister, despite her displeasure with me. It's not about the skinny-people-only thing; it's the fact they are selling "sex." I am trying to steer my children away from bad influences, and I throw those two stores into the category of bad influences.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 15, 2013 6:51 a.m.

    Several years ago my 18 year old son bought a brand new jacket at A&F in D.C where was working and was very pleased. On the bus going home with his new jacket he saw an A&F advertisement. He was disgusted by it so the next day he returned the jacket and got his money back. I was proud of him. There are lots of businesses I don't support because I don't like their policies, etc.

  • Arizona Border Dude NACO, AZ
    May 14, 2013 10:11 p.m.

    Apparently many have not been on the receiving end of snobbery from the "cool' crowd. It is an awful thing and believe me it hurts. That's the message I got out of the article. Mr. Wright was gently informing the A&F organization that their marketing plan is a form of us vs. them. Which, unfortunately, goes on in the teen scene almost everywhere.

    The hate and 'better than thou' attitudes it fosters is not the path our teens should be led down. And, A&F's attitude does lend to the spread of that. Sadly, people pay a lot of money to aid them in doing it.

    The other side of the coin is what many posts are saying. Beauty is not in waist size or straight teeth, rather its the inner self. And, that's the message all adults should be promoting to the younger generations.

  • oddman ,
    May 14, 2013 8:45 p.m.

    I often went Abercrombie and Fitch, the original one in NYC, just to marvel at it's unusual products. This was in 1966. It was always out of reach financially and wasn't a clothing brand or store then, but carried replica model A Fords, incredible toys and goods that could not be found anywhere else. It was always a cool experience to just browse. Unfortunately, from my perspective, it was a store catering to the super rich. It sounds like it has kept it's market but has changed it to the younger set, the impressionable and those most susceptable to wanting to be part of 'the proud crowd'.

  • DHan Syracuse, UT
    May 14, 2013 6:41 p.m.

    I have not read a single comment or article questioning his right to market to whomever he wishes. We are within our rights to criticize shallow attitudes like these.

  • speed66 Heber City, UT
    May 14, 2013 5:27 p.m.

    Bullying...that's funny. Ambercombie & Finch don't determine style, consumers do. And, yes, there is a difference in our society between the haves and have-nots.

    I think the point here is that people are in fact judged by what they wear and only judged by who they are after we get to know them. Fair enough. If you come to a job-interview in jeans and a t-shirt, I will have an immediate prejudice.

    So if we know this is true, why don't we neutralize a lot of this and require uniforms in schools? Can't we curtail the impact of this by using uniforms? The data supports the supposition. I have kids and they are all thin, physically attractive and fashionable. I wonder if we wouldn't all be better off if fashion was less of a focus in our schools.

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    May 14, 2013 4:45 p.m.

    Bullying is your word. Few readers will agree with your attribution of this title to Jason Wright. And yes, his article is well written and civil. You must be an over-sensitive skinny person. Have you not paid attention to the articles about the poor/dangerous health of fashion models who starve themselves to perpetuate the thinness so they can keep their jobs. That's what Jason was referring to...not to people who are naturally thin or not "obese." Chill, man.

  • JohnInSLC Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 14, 2013 4:36 p.m.

    If the CEO were really honest, he'd admit that the demographic A&F targets is actually "the cool kids with plenty of daddy's money, but little sense of value."

    Looking at A&F's prices once was enough for my kids to hear: "No Way!"

  • aljmac Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2013 4:32 p.m.

    I don't get the uproar over this CEO's comments. He has the right to make them. A company has the right to make product for whomever they want and determine anyone or no one to be cool by their own standards. Get over it, folks.

    "But what about the children!?"

    It's up to parents and peers to build people up. Not CEOs. If you can't fit into A&F, go somewhere else. There are PLENTY of options options for "cool" apparel.

    Seriously, people are taking this CEO's comments, of which we really don't know the context or intended audience, and using it to get on our high horses.

    Let it go. You're letting this executive live in your head rent free.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 14, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    Mr. Wright was definitely not "bullying". His comment was simply a knee-jerk defensive reaction to fact that Abercrombie & Fitch does promote a classism of sorts. He is right on that point, and right to be a little bothered by it. However, he lost sight of the fact that his anger was towards Abercrombie & Fitch, and instead targeted their bottom wage employees instead. The irony is, he simply maintained the class boundaries established by Abercrombie & Fitch by reinforcing the distinctions between the skinny kids who their clothes, and those other kids who don't. He didn't foster an improved ideal of beauty that embraces diversity and uniqueness, rather he simply tried to move the social dial so that the handsome kids are no longer handsome and the unhandsome becomes the new handsome.

  • GeoMan SALEM, OR
    May 14, 2013 4:03 p.m.

    Writing an "open letter" is bullying? Really? Jason Wright didn't even advocate that people not shop at A&F. All he did is express a point of view, with the faith (sure knowledge?) that some people would agree with him, and that some people would not.
    Labeling someone as skinny, even too skinny, is something that our society has always done with impunity, because it has never been considered hurtful (at 6'2" I weighed

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    May 14, 2013 3:43 p.m.

    Dwayne I don't think got this article; but that's okay. Jason, well spoken and pretty clear. And he nothing he said promotes obesity. There is difference between "feeling" and "being" healthy and attractive, versus being obsessed with numbers such weight and waist size to the point where one seeks to maintain the appearance of being emaciated because someone models this look as the one that is appropriate and cool. More so the open letter was addressing the idea that self worth is something you get with money buying the "desired" (read marketed) "cool" label to the exclusion and detriment of those with less means both financially and genetically. We're familiar with such marketing; but, it is another thing for this CEO to so openly flaunt his catering to class war. As Jason said, that's his right to speech and capitalism.

    Having not read, seen or heard anything else about this, I appreciate Jason using his free speech to bring this to our attention. If this is the marketing strategy of A&F, may they go out of business soon... and have their high brow wares liquidated/discounted at Ross, Big Lots, Goodwill and DI.

  • Denver2Portland Denver, CO
    May 14, 2013 3:25 p.m.

    Regardless of what parents and people do, write letters,etc., Abercrombie & Fitch will still be around.

    There is a market for them. Just like how there is a market for Nike, Victoria's Secret, etc.

    I don't like Hot Topic and how they are so 'dark' and the way they market and advertise, but i'm not going to get all uspet over it.

    If you don't like Abercrombie, then don't shop there or go near their stores. Simple as that.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    May 14, 2013 2:42 p.m.

    Mr. Wright,

    I think that you are right. Those who cannot see the beauty in all good people are missing a great deal of life.

    You are also right: The darkness of the store reflects the darkness of Mr. Jeffries soul.

    You are still right: Different people have different ideas of what is aesthetically attractive. I'll take my wife.

    Mr. Jeffries is superficial and artificial but is in no way beneficial. I hope he enjoys his store. I have never darkened the door and don't plan to do so any time soon. I plan to put my money to a more beneficial use.

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2013 2:37 p.m.

    I just wonder why the DN put this "letter" under the "Faith" category. Even an atheist could be offended by A&F's marketing strategy. Or is this a subtly targeted message to the faithful DN subscribers about modesty, and to avoid A&F because it promotes immodest clothing?

  • AmkaProblemka South Jordan, UT
    May 14, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    Dwayne -

    The CEO is making lots of money by putting out the message that some kids are cool and some are not, they'll use their marketing strategy and a price tag to inform you of it. It makes for a twisted and warped, materialistic society which condones body discrimination.

    Tell me how talking out against this practice is bullying?

    In general - Yes, there is such a thing as a healthy weight. But being 20 lbs underweight is far less healthy than being 20 lbs overweight.

    We all have to wear clothes, and making a living off of making them is an honorable thing. But doing it in such a way as to reinforce attitudes which damage our society and hurts individuals is quite dishonorable. Jeffries is the bully here.

  • SS MiddleofNowhere, Utah
    May 14, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    Wow . . . people will get bent out of shape over anything nowadays!

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2013 1:41 p.m.

    7th & 9th paragraphs are pure comedy gold.

    To Dwayne above; Isn't the A & F CEO already "bullying"

    The A & F CEO has every right to be an idiot... Its America.

    I have never shopped there or Hot Topic. I've never cared for the merchandise or the vibe I get from either.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    May 14, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    Dwayne in Provo, the author is not bullying just like the owner of the company is not bullying in the America I live in it is still o.k. to voice you're opinion, just as you have done here and as I have done here. I'm not bullying you. . . my opinion (which I'm allowed to have is that your opinion of what the author of the article is doing is ridiculous. By the way my kids would have fit the A and F clothing line but they chose not to spend that much money on clothes that advertise while you wear them. They had good self esteem and their friends liked them no matter what they wore. If kids at school are picking friends by what people wear than they probably aren't someone you really want your kids to be friends with. My opinion is that the author of the article was just giving his opinion on judging people by what they wear. My kids had friends who did wear some A & F clothes but they still were friends with my girls. Obviously they were brought up right no matter what they wore.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    May 14, 2013 1:22 p.m.

    Who cares?

    Why single out A&F? I can think of a handful of other stores and brands that are no different in their marketing.

    If you don't want the clothes, don't buy them. If you disagree with their marketing, don't buy in. Those who like the clothes, go ahead and buy them.

    Of all the problems going on in this country and throughout the world, the marketing strategy of one clothing company seems incredibly insignificant, especially when the simple choice of not buying the clothes can eliminate the angst of those who are so upset with the company.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    May 14, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    I had never even heard of A & F until now. We shop for clothes at DI, Savers, and Walmart. Costco for special occasions. We have six boys and two girls. We teach them that if they want to stand out, they should do it by developing their talents and achieving challenging goals, not by the clothes they wear.

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    May 14, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    CHS 85

    Sandy, UT

    And how much free publicity did you just give him? The solution is sooooo simple. Don't shop there if you don't like their stuff, if their stuff doesn't fit, or you have other beef with them. The feigned outrage every time someone says something you don't agree with is tiresome.

    So, if Jason's stuff is to tiresome, follow your own advice and don't read it or comment on it.
    And, did you really see outrage in his article? I thought it was civil, controlled, and well written.

  • Middle-aged Mormon Man JUNEAU, AK
    May 14, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    Whaaa? "What you cannot do is tell us what’s beautiful. Corporate America doesn’t define beauty, the soul does." ???

    Corporate America defines beauty all the time. If not, things like 5 inch heels, fake eyelashes, and most "fashion" wouldn't even exist. As a society, we line up to be told by Corporate America what the next beautiful things is - then we rush out and buy it.

    I lived through the Disco Era, and know that my soul was not involved in the clothing designs I wore.

  • ghanks Tacoma, WA
    May 14, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    Jason Wright, you crack me up! You have a way of getting us to see the humor in life's complexities. I've got the skinny kids, but we don't shop at A & F for several reasons. You have spoken about a few of those reasons in such a way that my rolling laughter has put it all into perspective. Thanks for a delightful start to my day!

  • DCJ Washington, DC
    May 14, 2013 11:20 a.m.


    I think there are bigger issues here than marketing to a particular size. One is whether AF's highly-sexualized marketing has an undesirable effect on our children's environment. My children won't shop there, but some kids their age will and I wonder how AF's marketing will influence the way that other kids behave toward my children.

    Another issue is that the marketing exploits class distinctions among children for profit. By making their products representative of a very selective definition of beauty, they can drive up the price. When the cool kids' club is very selective, you have to pay a lot to get in. That also has an effect on children that may not be desirable.

    Free speech is important. Like Mr. Wright, I value the freedom to speak out against business practices that I think may be harmful.

    Lest someone suggest that media and advertising can't really influence people's behavior, then why do companies spend billions of dollars on it? No one would pay big money for a Super Bowl ad if they thought it wouldn't help someone to think and behave in a way that would support buying their product.

  • Western Rover Herriman, UT
    May 14, 2013 9:58 a.m.

    If this store is going after for the "cool kids", why did they pick the name Abercrombie & Fitch? Sounds like an accountants firm to me.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    May 14, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    And how much free publicity did you just give him? The solution is sooooo simple. Don't shop there if you don't like their stuff, if their stuff doesn't fit, or you have other beef with them. The feigned outrage every time someone says something you don't agree with is tiresome.

  • estreetshuffle Window Rock, AZ
    May 14, 2013 9:11 a.m.

    I like my good old 501 jeans purchased from the Trading Post and a good old white T Shirt from Walmart and some good old Springsteen tunes. cheap and still in style.

  • Kellie Buckner University Heights, Ohio
    May 14, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    You don't have to have shopped at A&F to know what the store is like. Just walking past one of their stores gives you every detail Mr. Wright mentioned. I've never been inside one of these stores, but I already knew everything he said in describing them. Also, your comment that he's not a capitalist is incorrect. One definition of a capitalist is someone who favors capitalism. From what I know of Mr. Wright, he is most definitely a capitalist. Yes, he criticized the models and said waist size doesn't matter. You're missing the point he was making. Waist size doesn't matter, but being a healthy weight does.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 14, 2013 6:10 a.m.

    So...the size of waist lines do not matter, just literally sentences after Jason Wright was criticizing the "models", or "sales associates", for being too skinny and in desperate need of a pop-tart???

    In this story, Mr. Wright is not a "capitalist", he's a consumer. The best thing he can do is not shop at places that don't uphold his values. What did he do instead? He described in rather familiar detail the experience of shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch??????

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    May 14, 2013 5:22 a.m.

    Evidence of good genes like symmetrical facial features and good skin and teeth, have always been signs of beauty. Now that we understand the health risks associated with obesity, is it any wonder that society considers overweight people less attractive. The CEO's point is that A&F clothes are not designed to fit on a 200lb 5'4 woman. Do you have the same problem with sports car makers who design to a particular height?