Last week Abercrombie & Fitch was high in news feeds, but not for a good reason. Their CEO put out a blanket statement that their clothing was only for thin, good-looking, popular people and that they cater to that audience by not producing sizes past a large for women and by burning any damaged clothing instead of donating it, in order to only allow their brand to be on people that fit their ideal customer.
I work in marketing and advertising as my day job, I completely understand going through the process of figuring out who your target market is and creating products and advertising to reach that market. So yes, on paper the brand persona for A&F is probably exactly what their CEO described. However, there are ways of reaching your target market without blatantly stating who you DON'T want buying your product. A&F's CEO's comments show you the bad way.
I've never owned an item from their shop, not purposefully, but because when I was in the demographic they were looking to hit, my family couldn't afford their clothing. After I became an adult and started purchasing my own clothing, I never desired anything in their shop and I just bought things I liked and yes, I started thrifting and wearing vintage pretty early on. I've never had an affinity for their brand. I now am in the category of being "too fat" for their store, which again, is ok with me, as I don't miss the "opportunity to be one of the cool kids" that A&F is apparently trying to sell you with their clothing.
Until last week I hadn't spent an ounce of brain power even remotely thinking or caring about A&F. I'm not their target customer and I get that. I'm not upset they don't advertise or market to me. I do however dislike big brands that are negative and market themselves in a way that makes their customers feel bad about themselves. The idea of "reverse marketing" or making your target market believe that they will not be something positive or good without your product is one of my least favorite marketing tactics. Being a kid/young adult is hard enough without a brand coming out and saying, "Look, you'll never be good enough to wear our clothing." What a horrible message!
That said - I like this gentleman's idea (the video is great!)
And I like it because while it shows A&F that they have misjudged their customer base and most-likely hurt their sales, it does it in a positive way. While A&F's ideal buyer may be pretty, thin and popular, that doesn't mean they aren't also smart, socially conscious or that they like being talked about like prize dogs at the AKC open. The project started by Greg Karber gives customers a chance to take a stand by doing something positive with A&F's negativity - giving back to the homeless.
Checkout the #Fitchthehomeless project. If you have A&F clothing you're willing to donate, wonderful! And to all my thrifting sisters and brothers out there, consider throwing a few A&F shirts into your carts while you're out treasuring hunting and giving them to the needy :)
We in small business and especially in the vintage and resale market can do something positive to show a big business brand how customers truly deserve to be treated!