Dipping in and out of the social media channels today I’ve noticed a lot of irate posts and comments regarding a recent article in Business Insider about the comments made by the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries. Basically he has said that he only wants ‘cool, thin, beautiful people wearing Abercrombie’s clothes’. Reading the comments stirred me – but not into resolute agreement with the dissenters I’m afraid.
Before I continue I will preface with saying I am not fatist, remember? I’ve been there, and I know what it’s like not being able to buy the clothes I want. Even if the sizes were available – at my largest I really should not even have been thinking about wearing some styles from stores like H&M and A&F.
So back to what Mr. Jeffries said. Anyone who has studied Marketing 101 knows that every great (and not so great) brand has a target. You sacrifice being everything to all people in order to become niche with a certain core target. In theory all brands are exclusionary. Cartier market to wealthy individuals, Jenny Craig market to those that want to lose weight, Walmart target to those that want to ‘Save money. Live better.’, and Lane Bryant market to plus size women. Where are the complaints about these brands being exclusionary? I bet if you saw some of the white boards in those offices with the brand’s target demos, psychos and guiding principles written out, you would shudder to see who it really is they want buying their product.
I disagree completely with The Daily Mail’s summary regarding the furore – “But it might be time to change this dated business model. Plus-size, generally referring to U.S. 14 and above, makes up 67per cent of America’s purchasing population.” Let’s stop increasing this number and start addressing the problem by getting healthier America! I’ve often aired my hope that Zara doesn’t start vanity sizing for the US. Their sales are not as good here as in Europe due, it is said, to the larger average size of the American woman. Put bluntly a lot of American women can’t fit into Zara’s Large (very few of their clothes go to an XL). Keep the clothes as they are – those that are desperate to wear the clothes and can’t, can go for a run and stay away from the chocolate.
Now I do realize this isn’t just about being ‘large’. It’s also the reference to needing to be a ‘cool kid’ to shop there – and I get that. There are all sorts of pressures on children as it is – never mind them worrying about being cool enough or not to wear Abercrombie, but ‘kids that are cool’ versus ‘kids that are not’ is nothing new. Yes I have watched The Breakfast Club way too many times. As far as I am aware most high schoolers can’t afford to shop in A&F without their parents chipping in – so surely that is where a parent helps to guide them with their clothes choices? If, as a parent, you oppose the brand’s targeting practices don’t shop there.
So in conclusion to my random thoughts on the subject – I actually applaud Mike Jeffries for being open about his target market – it really doesn’t take much to work it out. I can’t see it damaging A&F, in fact for many it will become more desirable – and for those objectors there are many other places to shop.
After the Daily Mail article yesterday and some of the comments made I was struck by how many people assumed that any woman who blogs is a stay at home mom spending all her Husband’s hard earned cash. The comments were obviously made by people who didn’t read the article in detail as Beth was a lawyer and now works as a stylist, and Avril used to work in banking so earned her own money – and I’m sure she’ll be earning more of her own money given her business savvy and the success of her blog. More to the point though why is staying at home seen as being less of a commitment than working out of the house? The time I have spent at home during my maternity leaves has only demonstrated to me that staying at home is the hardest job in the world and not one for me. Working is easy in comparison.
These days I am lucky – I really feel I have struck the balance between time at home and time working. I spent years trying to climb the corporate ladder and as the offices got bigger and the titles got grander neither the compensation nor the satisfaction increased proportionally. “More responsibility and time in the office please, but you’re only going to get a small bump in pay as you were already being paid a lot.” What??? No thanks.
The key thing I learned during my PhD was that I no longer wanted to work in a laboratory or academia. I yearned for the ‘glamour’ of travel and business meetings. In 1997 I started work as an IT Consultant for PwC. I loved it – we were all new graduates embarking on our first ‘proper’ jobs. We had money at last and 20 of us spent about 12 weeks together on a coding crash course – it was like being a student again but I was actually getting paid! Of course there was no glamour involved whatsoever. We sat in our office in London Bridge waiting to be assigned a project, bored then deflated that we’d be working around the corner in Holborn, not Barcelona. I soon realized though that being London based was quite exciting and I loved the thrill of being in the City. I jumped ship and went to work as a Business Analyst at an investment bank. It opened a world of opportunity to me – one I never knew existed. For a while I felt like a fish out of water surrounded by spread collars, Windsor knots and cufflinks but I soon found my bearings. I would have stayed there – I had good friends and I was having fun – but MM came home one day and told me we had the chance to move to Atlanta. Of course I was going to go – but I wanted to work too which back then meant that I needed a job that would provide me with a visa – so off I went back to PwC. I was taking the risk that as a global company they would transfer me to Atlanta – and they did.
Moving here was far more of a culture shock than I ever imagined. My first project was in Manchester, New Hampshire so every Monday I was commuting via a 4 hour flight. I hated it. I hated the travel and the work culture was far more disciplined than I had experienced in the past. Plus everyone seemed to have an MBA – my PhD suddenly meant nothing. After getting out and starting my MBA I knew I had to get out of IT all together – jobs were plentiful and it paid well but it just wasn’t for me. My MBA allowed me to make a career change into strategy and marketing but it seemed that with every job I started something happened – Mirant went bankrupt and then at The Home Depot the VP who hired me left and the team was dissolved. I soon became disillusioned with corporate America. I contracted for a while as a consultant which was fabulous especially while I had my daughter – I relished the flexibility. After a while though my ambition drew me back to a corporate career and I worked in brand management for IHG. It was brilliant working for a British company over here. Everything suddenly seemed more comfortable and more familiar and for the first time ‘the World’ was not the 50 States, and my accent was just one of many European accents. As with all companies though changes came and I was struggling with the fact that my children were getting older – I wanted to be around them more instead of dropping them at daycare from 8 till 6 every day. Fortunately MM’s business was going from strength to strength and, as reluctant as we were to put all our eggs in one basket, I quit IHG to work with him almost 2 and a half years ago.
Yes it’s a bit weird sometimes being in the office with MM – I felt like an intruder to begin with – but we keep out of each others way. I can now work four days a week and be home for 3pm when my daughter gets off the school bus and best of all Friday is My Day! It took a few risks and a convoluted path to get here but I have reached my personal utopia when it comes to work/life balance.
So in general many of us bloggers have lots of other stuff going on too. Blogging in many cases is something we make time to do because we enjoy it – just like going for a run or watching a football game. Many of us started it with no expectations and so like me we are thrilled and a little overwhelmed with the great positive feedback and comments we receive. I am very happy if I can distract you for 10 minutes or so everyday with my little post and outfit of the day. Thank you xx
Today I had to dash to the dentist with my daughter before work so threw on my Hudsons and this cute top from J.Crew from a couple of years ago. The shoes are Sam Edleman from Zappos.com. The black beaded bracelets are H&M and the earrings were dirt cheap from Target. (Sorry for the poor quality it was dark at 7am!)