I don’t know why I’m letting Mike Jeffries occupy even one precious brain cell. But I am, and I can’t stop. By now you’ve probably heard the reposting of Abercrombie’s CEO Mike Jeffries “philosophy.” In case you haven’t heard, he blatantly said that “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.” This is part of the explanation why Abercrombie & Fitch won’t sell “women’s” clothes over size 10.
I’m not certain why this 2006 interview went viral now, but there’s obviously great public outcry over it. And, maybe his radical comments are merely an attempt to drive greater demand for A&F. My struggle is not with what he said; I’ve never purchased clothes from A&F nor do I (now especially) ever intend to. My problem lies with an adult perpetuating this particular concept of “cool.”
So, this topic sparked last night’s dinner conversation: what is cool. I was happy (but not really surprised) that my 10-year-old son (4th grade) didn’t really have a definition for “cool.” He noticed kids are “popular” for different reasons; he could name the fastest kid in his grade, but just as quickly could name the student fastest at math: neither of them have less friends than the other.
I expected by 11-year-old daughter (6th grade) to have a different approach since junior high seems to bring a new element to the game (though sadly, her 5th grade year saw plenty of “mean girl” issues). I found it interesting that she expressed that there aren’t really “cool” kids, but plenty of them who think they are. In her eyes, the “cool kids” aren’t necessarily better, but they’re louder, like they need to tell you they’re cool so you won’t think they’re not. Sounds like a lack of confidence wrapped up in $128 shorts.
Her answer gave me a breath of hope. As a parent, I try to instill that what’s inside is obviously more important than anything you’ll ever wear or own. We aren’t defined by materials, but the generosity and kindness we exhibit. We are no more important than the homeless man we passed in the city, and certainly no less important than the CEO that made over $70 million in a year. The fact that my kids are understanding this concept- “that’s cool.”
Mr. Jeffries went on to claim that ““Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla.” It seems to me that a store who’s shoppers are only boys with six-packs and girls without curves and nothing to create a little pop of flavor….well that’s just vanilla.
Daily Green Special: Just because it’s not vanilla, all of our Endangered Species Chocolates are buy one get one free today! Just write “chocolate” in the checkout notes and we’ll add a free (equal value) chocolate to your order. Offer valid until tomorrow’s post. Happy Tuesday.