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Quotations from Mike Jeffries, Controversial CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch Stores

Quotable Quotes About Business Philosophy and Sexualizing a U.S. Retail Brand

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Updated August 30, 2013
Related Story: CEO Mike Jeffries Overvalues His Own Brand and Loses His Cool After Teen Shoppers and Investors Don’t Aspire To Abercrombie Any More >>

Mike Jeffries has proven himself to be one of the most outspoken and controversial CEOs in the U.S. retail industry in the 21st century. Abercrombie & Fitch has shocked its customers, the parents of its customers, investors, fellow retailers, advocacy groups, and just about anybody else who is paying attention with provocative marketing images of very young people modeling Abercrombie’s latest styles in ways that many find to be sexually explicit and exploitative.

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Throughout his 17 years as the leader of the Abercrombie brand, Jeffries has acknowledged the company’s intention to sexualize its marketing, and adamantly denies that there is anything inappropriate about it.

These quotes from one of the most colorful retail leaders known to modern American retailing will reveal the business philosophies of Mike Jeffries and the beliefs that drive the decisions behind the Abercrombie & Fitch brand.

Quotable Quotes From Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, About the Philosophy and Business Practices of Abercrombie & Fitch:
  • "How does a store look? How does it feel? How does it smell? That's what I'm obsessed with."

  • “We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don't market to anyone other than that.”

    Related: Why Mike Jeffries Values the Abercrombie Brand More Than the Abercrombie Customer >>

  • "I think that what we represent sexually is healthy. It's playful. It's not dark. It's not degrading! And it's not gay, and it's not straight, and it's not black, and it's not white. It's not about any labels. That would be cynical, and we're not cynical! It's all depicting this wonderful camaraderie, friendship, and playfulness that exist in this generation and, candidly, does not exist in the older generation."

  • "People said we were cynical, that we were sexualizing little girls. But you know what? I still think those are cute underwear for little girls. And I think anybody who gets on a bandwagon about thongs for little girls is crazy. Just crazy! There's so much craziness about sex in this country. It's nuts! I can see getting upset about letting your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs, but why would you let your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs?"

  • "Listen, do we go too far sometimes? Absolutely. But we push the envelope, and we try to be funny, and we try to stay authentic and relevant to our target customer. I really don't care what anyone other than our target customer thinks."

  • "Dude, I'm not an old fart who wears his jeans up at his shoulders.”

  • "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he says. "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. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either."

  • "Promotions are a short-term solution with dreadful long-term effects."

  • “With a challenging economic environment, the consumer continues to show a reluctance to spend on premium brands; a price consciousness dictating shopping habits unlike anything I have ever seen.”

  • “We trust each other. We trust in our business partners and in all of you. Working passionately on strengthening our business will bring us back into stronger times.”

  • "The reasons for the weak traffic we've seen in the U.S. are not entirely clear."

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