Mike Jeffries, chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch leaves the store… (Bertrand Guay, AFP/Getty…)
Re "Abercrombie's pitiful pitch," Perspective, May 14
Robin Abcarian is right that Abercrombie & Fitch's refusal to make clothes for women who aren't skinny smacks of elitism.
However, should we embrace the figures — 5 feet 4 inches and 162 pounds — that define the average young American woman? According to the National Institute of Health, that physique registers in the upper range of "overweight."
Medical research has established that those who are overweight or obese suffer health problems generating disproportionate medical expenses, and that modifications in diet and exercise can enable the bulk of overweight or obese people to attain a healthy physique.
It's in everyone's interest to inspire healthy diets and exercise among our overweight masses. This vital purpose doesn't appear well served by Abercrombie's unseemly pitch.
I have no interest in Abercrombie (financial or otherwise), but the fact is that virtually all retailers choose to specialize. Has Abcarian ever heard of Coldwater Creek for women? Nieman Marcus in effect eliminates all but a small fraction of shoppers by stocking only high-priced merchandise. Online retailers specialize. And so it goes.
Abercrombie is specializing — nothing more, nothing less. The handful of people cited in the story may not like it, but they are not representative of the company's customer base.
It is also in poor taste for Abcarian to engage in an ad hominem attacks with respect to Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie's chief executive. His appearance is not at all germane here, and her characterization of his looks was juvenile.
Edward A. Shaw
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