Is any apology better than no apology?
Usually, but we're not so sure when it comes to Abercrombie & Fitch. The clothing retailer — under scrutiny for some really insensitive comments made by CEO Mike Jeffries in 2006 — finally issued an official statement in response to the furor.
"[We are] strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination [or] bullying," the company said in a statement Wednesday.
"We look forward to continuing this dialogue and taking concrete steps to demonstrate our commitment to anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion. We want to reiterate that we sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by comments we have made in the past which are contrary to these values."
The apology comes two weeks after Jeffries' 2006 Slate interview resurfaced. In the interview, the 68-year-old CEO admitted to a brand strategy that excludes plus-size women.
"We go after the cool kids," he said. "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."
The quotes infuriated everyone, including Ellen DeGeneres — who called out the retailer with a defiant "Fitch, please" during a recent monologue — and actress Kirstie Alley.
"He says, 'Abercrombie clothes are for people that are cool and who look a certain way and are beautiful and who are thin and blah, blah, blah," she told Entertainment Tonight. "He goes on and on and on. That would make me never buy anything from Abercrombie even if I was cool and thin."
Blogger Jes Baker even did a fabulous "Attractive & Fat" photo shoot to show Abercrombie that women are beautiful no matter their size. But the brand didn't issue the statement until 18-year-old Benjamin O'Keefe met with executives in their Ohio headquarters. O'Keefe, an eating disorder survivor, started a change.org petition to get A&F to change their sizing structure.
Will it work? Time will tell. Abercrombie built its brand on being exclusionary — remember when they offered to pay the Jersey Shore cast to stop wearing its clothes?
Jeffries' feelings now? He seems to be sorry... kinda.
"I want to address some of my comments that have been circulating from a 2006 interview," he said last week. "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," he continued. "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.
"We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations or other anti-social behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics."
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