Quotes from Mike Jeffries, former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO

Quotes About His Business Philosophy and Sexualizing a Retail Brand

Protesters speaking out against Jeffries' controversial statements
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Before he was ousted from his position as CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries was one of the most controversial retail CEOs in the U.S. retail industry. Unlike other quotable CEO's such as Apple Founder Steve Jobs or Wal-Mart Founder Sam Walton, Jeffries was known to shock the industry with this controversial perspective and approach to his brand. During his tenure as CEO, his business philosophies and views about sexualizing the Abercrombie & Fitch brand shocked its customers, the parents of its customers, investors, fellow retailers, advocacy groups, and just about anybody else who was paying attention.

It wasn't just the provocative marketing images of very young people modeling Abercrombie’s latest styles in ways that many find to be sexually explicit and exploitative that was controversial. Mike Jeffries also shocked the same groups, along with worldwide consumers. with his unabashed disdain for both customers and employees who he didn't consider to fit the "Abercrombie look."

Jeffries was never shy about admitting that he had a vision for both Abercrombie & Fitch employees and customers which many considered to be exclusionary at the least and discriminatory at the worst. More than once throughout his 22 years as the leader of the Abercrombie brand, Jeffries acknowledged the company’s intention to sexualize its marketing and adamantly denied that there was anything inappropriate about it.
The quotes from Jeffries listed below reveal his controversial business philosophies, which were the beliefs that drove his decisions and helped him to initially elevate both the company's sales and the Abercrombie & Fitch brand image in the 1990s. But it was Jeffries' same controversial business philosophies that created a drastic decline in both sales and brand value in the 21st century, and which eventually led to the ousting of Jeffries from his position as Chairman of the Board, and his rather sudden "retirement" in 2014.  

What follows is a collection of some of the most controversial Mike Jeffries quotable quotations arranged in no particular order Read and share these quotes, and then click the links at the bottom of the page for more funny, inspiring, and quotable quotes about retailing, leadership, shopping and more!

Quotes from Mike Jeffries, Former CEO 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.”
  • "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."