Business Of Fashion: ABERCROMBIE CUTS THE CORD WITH MICHAEL JEFFRIES
America’s favorite rugged teen retailer is undergoing major renovation. Michael Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s eccentric and controversial CEO, has officially resigned after more than 20 years at the helm of the iconic retailer. As reported by Business Insider, Jeffries leaves the company after 11 quarters of declining sales.
“I believe now is the right time for new leadership to take the company forward in the next phase of its development,” said Jeffries.
Last year, Abercrombie investors ousted Jeffries from his position as chairman of the company’s board of directors, giving the job to Arthur C. Martinez in an unprecedented split of the chief executive and chairman roles.
Jeffries is famous for transforming Abercrombie from a stale outdoor goods retailer to the most coveted aspirational teen brand of the 1990s and early 2000s. Immortalized in media – perhaps most famously in male pop group LFO’s 1999 song “Summer Girls” – the brand became synonymous with middle and high school popularity.
That sexy reputation generated astronomical sales for years, but Jeffries had come under intense criticism for taking the image in a discriminatory direction: openly stating that Abercrombie was intentionally exclusionary and targeted only “the cool kids.” The New York Times reports that a 2004 racial discrimination lawsuit accused the brand of privileging white workers over black, Hispanic and Asian employees.
The years of negative publicity – including Jeffries’ own dictatorial tendencies, such as mandating employees’ uniforms down to underwear – hurt the brand, so it is no surprise that Abercrombie’s stock perked up six percent upon news of the former CEO’s resignation.
But Martinez made sure to highlight Jeffries’ successes throughout his tenure at Abercrombie.
“It is impossible to overstate Mike Jeffries’s extraordinary accomplishments in building Abercrombie & Fitch to the iconic status the brand now enjoys,” said the incoming chairman.
Image via Wikimedia/User: Ruehl boi11386; Thumbnail via Mark Lennihan/AP