Rebranding: Abercrombie & Fitch (Arhamsadr)

Much to the horror of pre-teen girls all across the nation, the clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch has been in the spotlight of a controversy, born out of ignorant comments made by the company’s CEO. The 68-year-old CEO, Mike Jeffries, was documented in a 2006 interview saying that his company was “exclusionary” and that a lot of people “didn’t belong” in the clothing of his company. In accordance with this ideology, A&F has a history of refusing to donate surplus clothes to charity, instead burning the clothes in order to keep “poor people” from representing their brand.
As an act of protest, a Los Angeles man has taken Abercrombie’s fate into his own hands. Greg Karber has begun a campaign of handing out A&F brand clothing to homeless people on the streets of L.A. In a YouTube video chronicling the escapade, Karber expresses his wish to “change the brand” and to end the inherent “bullying” of Abercrombie’s entire thought process. Karber scoured thrift stores in the Southern California area, ending up with armfuls of A&F clothing, which he then distributed amongst a crowd that is not necessarily Abercrombie’s ‘target audience’.
So here’s the real question: were Karber’s actions justified? Is he a man taking a stand against a corrupt and potentially dangerous company ideology? Or is he just another white dude playing savior and patting himself on the back for ‘starting a revolution’?
The way I see it is this: what Karber did is definitely a step in the right direction. He’s making a very public campaign to let everyone know that the actions of Jeffries’ company should not be condoned.
Mike Jeffries (who, by the way, kind of resembles a bleach-blonde gremlin) is only helping in perpetuating the idea that the only people of worth are svelte, classically good-looking and wealthy. It’s especially problematic considering that his target-sales audience is mostly girls of the vulnerable adolescent or teen age. Doesn’t A&F know that 95 percent of the 24 million Americans who are suffering from eating disorders are in their primary age range of 12-25?
On the other hand, Karber’s ‘revolutionary’ actions are just the first step in what could come out of the A&F controversy. Karber’s campaign is a very public way of letting a lot of people know about the problem; however, I feel like most of what he’s doing is just adding fuel to the fire. Is it really necessary to throw shade in such a superficial way? I guess we’ll see when (or if) Abercrombie and Fitch decides to respond to Karber’s call-out.
I know it’s quite old-hat to blame society’s warped perception of what is deemed ‘attractive’ on the media, but this assumption becomes very real when we are faced with situations like the one concerning A&F.
If we want to have any sort of progress in making people feel beautiful in their own skin, in shrinking the number of new cases of anorexia, in a teenage girl looking at her reflection and feeling good about it, then places like Abercrombie and Fitch are where we have to start.

Cheyda Arhamsadr is a first-year English major. She can be reached at carhamsa@uci.edu.