Abercrombie & Fitch: Hot or Not?
Posted on May 03 2022
Welcome to May! It’s hard to believe that Spring is on its way. I hope you’re enjoying the nicer weather as much as I am.
Trigger Warning: This blog discusses eating disorder behaviour, and racism, ableism and fatphobia in the fashion industry.
I recently watched a new documentary on Netflix called “White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch.” It’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet! I was fascinated by the story of turning the company around from a strategic standpoint and following the company’s demise due to the behaviour of their narcissistic leader (former CEO, Mike Jeffries), and negative publicity surrounding the company’s racist, ableist, fatphobic and sexist hiring practices.
Watching the documentary also took me back to a time when I was in the peak of my disordered eating behaviour. You see, even at my smallest, A&F clothing never fit me. The brand was at its most popular in the late 90’s and early 2000s, when I was in my late teens and early twenties. This was a time when I would have done almost anything to fit into fashionable brand name clothing. And when I couldn’t, I thought I was at fault for not eating “healthy” or exercising hard enough. I didn’t think to question that my body was not a problem to be fixed, and that the problem instead was with the fatphobic mindset of the fashion industry.
Since then, I’ve spent nearly four years working on my relationship with food and my body, doing my best to follow the principles of Intuitive Eating, and speaking out about how fat folks are treated by society. Every day isn’t perfect by any means. I still have days where I don’t like my body and think about what life would be like if I had a flat stomach or a sculpted jawline. But the one thing I am most proud of is reconciling that clothing is meant to fit MY body. I’m not meant to change or shrink my body to fit the clothes. That’s one message I would love to go back and tell my 20-year-old self, give that girl a big hug and tell her she is perfect…just the way she is.
What’s Happened to Abercrombie Since?
Since ousting Mike Jeffries as CEO in 2014, the company has certainly gone through its ups and downs in an attempt to re-build their image and reputation. A&F claims to be taking steps to be more inclusive, but are they hitting the mark?
I took a look on their website and social media. There are a handful of images of larger-bodied women, mostly in images focused on Black History Month (which to me is problematic as this continues to reinforce stereotypes). Larger Black bodies are featured modeling their Amplify Black Voices collection, but I don’t see any black, plus-sized models on their Instagram outside of this campaign.
One of Abercrombie’s Instagram posts during Black History Month features an interview with a woman named Brooklyn about Inclusion and Diversity.
Brooklyn is quoted as saying: "As our customers are looking to support companies who reflect their values, it is imperative that we show up for them in an authentic way through the products we create, the language we use when marketing to them, and the people at the table making decisions on their behalf. We do that by becoming people experts—not just observing street style to adapt it to our brand, but by truly dedicating ourselves to being open to learn about others beyond one month out of the year."
On the A&F website, their new CEO, Fran Horowitz states, “Abercrombie isn’t a brand where you need to fit in—it’s one where everyone truly belongs. We lead with purpose, and that inclusive and equitable spirit is woven throughout all we do.”
Are Abercrombie’s words backed up by their actions? Let’s dig a little deeper…
I browsed on their website for a couple of basic pieces – jeans and t-shirts. Here is what I found...
In Jeans, A&F offers up to a Size 37. Before you get too excited, these are A&F sizes…more info on size charts below. They state that all their jean fits are available in “Curve Love,” but most of these are not modeled by curvy or plus models. In fact, when I selected a couple of items in larger sizes, I couldn’t see what the items would look like on a larger-bodied person, because they are only shown on straight-sized models.
Here’s their Jeans size chart:
I compared this against Madewell’s denim size chart, as Madewell offers extended sizing up to 4X in many items and their clothing fits true to size. A Size 24/37 in A&F jeans would be roughly equivalent to a 24W in Madewell jeans. Keep in mind that Madewell’s jeans are offered up to a 28W.
Next, I looked for a simple t-shirt. Similar story here – the tees are only modeled on straight-sized models and I couldn’t see what the items might look like on my body when I selected larger sizes.
Here is A&F's Tops size chart:
Comparing again to Madewell, an XXXL at A&F would roughly line up with a 22 or 24W (or 3X). Keep in mind that Madewell offers many women’s styles up to a 28W or 4X.
While A&F is offering some extended sizing, there’s room for improvement in offering a fully inclusive size range. Also, the company needs to create a truly welcoming shopping experience for plus folks, by consistently featuring plus-sized people on their social media and showing what items look like on various body types. Otherwise, their words seem like a gimmick and publicity stunt.
A&F says they’re creating “a space where everyone feels confident and comfortable in their own skin.” But are they really with the lack of representation in their advertising, social media and online shopping experience?
Did you watch the Abercrombie documentary? What were your thoughts? I would love to hear your comments and feedback!
Here’s what’s new in The Shop!
We've added soooo many adorable new things for Spring and Summer! We have over 200 items for Spring and Summer from brands including Anthropologie, ModCloth, Good American and Eloquii. Our Wedding and Events Shop is also open, with gorgeous plus-size wedding gowns, bridesmaid and event dresses.
Watch this space as we’ve got fresh swimwear, footwear and more coming to The Shop very soon!
As always, if there is something special you’re looking for or a brand you’d like to see more of, we want to hear from you! The Curvy Shop also offers personal styling and shopping if we can help with transitioning your wardrobe to Summer, or shopping for a special event or vacation.
Thank you so much for reading along and your continued support of The Curvy Shop!
With heartfelt gratitude – XOXO,