Writer starts ‘Fitch the Homeless’ campaign to protest Abercrombie & Fitch’s ‘cool kid’ policies

Abercrombie & Fitch logoThe clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch received extra attention this week when a Los Angeles writer started an online campaign to rebrand the company’s “exclusionary” reputation. The writer’s pitch: Making A&F “the world’s number one brand of homeless apparel.”

Greg Karber started the “FitchTheHomeless” campaign in an attempt to undermine the company’s “cool kid” and “holier than thou” persona. He released a video on YouTube Monday, which shows him scouring a Goodwill store for A&F clothes and then handing them out to the homeless on the streets of East Los Angeles; the video has since received more than 1.2 million hits.

Reportedly, when A&F items are damaged, the store is required to burn them instead of selling them at discount or donating them to the homeless.

Karber’s campaign has received mixed reviews from viewers. Some have lauded him for doing “something to turn that negative energy into a positive social good,” as he told Mashable in an email. Others have rejected the way that Karber went about the campaign, accusing him of simply using the homeless to make a point rather than genuinely helping them out.

“The irony is that, you did to the homeless, what A&F did to the uncool kids. You used them as an example of the lowest people you could find to pull off your trashing of A&F,” reads a comment on the video’s YouTube page.

Controversy over the company’s branding is nothing new. In 2006, A&F CEO Mike Jeffries implied in an article for Salon magazine that the company only markets to “cool and popular kids,” excluding the “the not-so-popular kids”.

“In every school there are cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told Salon’s Benoit Denizet-Lewis. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. 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.”

Earlier this month Business Insider published an article discussing the company’s refusal to sell X-large and XXL-sized clothing for women - apparently for a similar reason – they don’t want uncool, fat people in their clothes.

“He [Mike Jeffries] doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Robin Lewis, the co-author of The New Rules of Retail and CEO of The Robin Reporttold Business Insider. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids’.”

Watch the “FitchTheHomeless” video below:

Comments

Comments

  1. M. Smith says:

    But, FUBU marketing to only black people is OK, right?

  2. Meghan says:

    I thought it was insulting. The homeless is not a tool for marketing, and there are items that they actually need that they are not going to receive from this campaign.

  3. Faith says:

    This campaign is offensive & dehumanizing. Even writers who may disagree about many things (a feminist blogger & a conservative Catholic) agree that this video is offensive in tone & content:

    “SO listen. Grab all your Abercrombie & Fitch clothes. Donate them to a shelter. Donate other stuff, too. That part of the video isn’t such a bad thing. But understand that a real, ethical protest doesn’t throw anyone under the bus in order to achieve its goal — especially not the most disenfranchised groups among us. There are ways this kind of protest could have gone down without legitimizing stigma. Stigma could have been intentionally used to mock both A&F and the stigma itself.” – Stacy Bias

    “The emphasis over the past few days/weeks since Jeffries’ statements hit the media has been on the “cool kids vs. not-so-cool kids” – so identifying the homeless as the “not-so-cool kids” that Jeffries intends to exclude only reinforces the stigma already applied to homeless people. It makes homeless people the butt of a joke, and that’s not ok.” – Rachel Bunting

    “This stunt is based on the exact same premise offered by Jeffries: that some people are “unworthy” to wear A&F clothes. The hipster doofus handing out A&F clothing to people on the street is doing it because he accepts the notion that they’re somehow lesser than “the rest of us.” His stunt has no bite without this assumption.” – Thomas L. McDonald

  4. sonsern says:

    Many believe that the whole idea of #fitchthehomeless is degrading because the homeless people are being used to contrast the idea of cool. The attempt to #fitchthehomeless looks down upon homeless people as “unworthy,” or lesser human beings. And it’s not clear how or whether, from the homeless perspective, this stunt is actually helping anything.

    P1124 is another company in contention for the title of no. 1 brand of the homeless. P1124 has started a “Wear One, Share One” campaign to clothe the same group homeless people on Skid Row. But unlike the #fitchthehomeless movement, whose goal is to shame Abercrombie without regard to the wellbeing of the homeless, P1124′s goal is to uplift and bless the homeless. The “Wear One, Share One” Campaign is simple; buy one shirt, get two, one to wear, one to share. The goal is to #uplifthehomeless, and show them that they are worthy of receiving the same new clothes that we purchase for ourselves.

    Very interesting… P1124 is currently raising funds on indegogo, check it out: http://goo.gl/nQ1lH

  5. Beth says:

    I heard about this story first thing this morning. After dropping off my kids, I came right home to see and read about what was going on with Fitch the Homeless. I am a mother of 2 that wouldn’t under A&F CEO Jeffries be wanted to be seen in A&F clothing. I have watched the video, have read some articles and comments about the situtation at hand. I don’t agree with Jeffries. I do understand Karber’s point. I will have to argue the one point that seems to be coming up. The homeless vs. the cool kids. Really? I read the comment: “The irony is that, you did to the homeless, what A&F did to the uncool kids. You used them as an example of the lowest people you could find to pull off your trashing of A&F,” Again Really?? Comparing the homeless to the lowest people? Here, I will help you to understand. After what Jeffries said about A&F clothing being for “cool kids” ect.,Karber, is speaking out and standing up. I think the reason Karber choose the homless wasn’t for the fact as the comment said “the lowest people you could find”, but was to find thoses in need that didn’t fit the target group A&F is so proud to want and have. It brings back focus to society’s ideology and maybe, just maybe bring some help to our own citizens who are in need.

  6. J. Hudson says:

    Never purchased anything from these people, never will, just like fubu and nike. If I were to purchase some of these items and give them to the homeless, I am sure that a certain type would be robbing and killing the poor homeless just for their clothing. Why make them a target?

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