Abercrombie Apologizes: Retailer Meets with Teens to Address Controversy
ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis reports:
The viral backlash against Abercrombie & Fitch for refusing to offer larger sizes for their customers, and for controversial remarks made by their CEO, Mike Jeffries, isn't going away.
"Not only will I not let my kids shop at Abercrombie again, I will not let them wear what they already have in their closets," said one mom, reading from a letter in an online video.
The public outcry is still escalating a month after ABC News first reported the retailer doesn't carry women's sizes above a large, and that the CEO only wants cool kids in his clothes, once telling Salon magazine, "A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."
But the PR nightmare is just the tip of the iceberg for Abercrombie's problems. The trendy retailer announced Friday that its U.S. sales fell 17 percent in the first quarter, declines that occurred before the controversy erupted.
However, the company finally responded last week to protestors, meeting with the organizers of a Chicago rally.
"These kids are serious," Darryl Roberts, the protest's organizer, told ABC News. "They have had enough."
"I'm cautiously optimistic, but I think if we continue an open dialogue with Abercrombie & Fitch, we can really make some real change to their business and business across the world," added Benjamin O'Keefe, 18, creator of an Abercrombie & Fitch petition on Change.org that garnered more than 73,000 signatures.
O'Keefe's petition caught the retailer's attention, who agreed to sit down with him on May 21 to discuss how Abercrombie can improve upon its lack of diversity in their clothing and branding.
Shortly after the meeting's conclusion, an Abercrombie spokesman released the following statement apologizing for past comments: "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."
But for some, like blogger Jes Baker, creator of a faux Abercrombie & Fitch campaign, it's too little too late.
"The only thing you've done through your comments is reinforce the unoriginal concept that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable," Baker writes on her blog, The Militant Baker. "Your apology doesn't change this."
Sources at Abercrombie & Fitch tell ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis the company expects to make an announcement next week with more details on how they will support anti-bullying.