There has been much anger toward Michael Jeffries, CEO of clothing chain Abercrombie and Fitch, who issued the following statement about A&F’s clothing: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. 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.” (source)
In an attempt of activism, Greg Karber came up with what he surely thought was a clever way to readjust the Abercrombie and Fitch brand: by giving away Abercrombie and Fitch clothes to the homeless, which he has dubbed “Fitch the Homeless.” Karber hopes that by giving A&F clothes to the “not-so-cool,” the brand will lose it’s reputation as a clothing line for popular people.
I find Karber’s plan insensitive and poorly thought out, however well-intentioned it may be. Why is it such a big deal if he’s encouraging people to give clothes to the homeless?
Because in Karber’s plan, the homeless are being used to help his cause. The homeless already lack a platform to be heard and have difficulty accessing resources that they need. They are ostracized by the community, passed by hundreds of people on the street who don’t even glance in their direction. If Karber wants to make Abercrombie lose its reputation for being a clothing line for popular people by associating the brand with the homeless, what is he saying about homeless people? That they are dirty, un-cool, and unpopular.
Giving clothing, toiletries, food, and other needed items to the homeless is a wonderful activity and a great way to help them and organizations like Georgetown Ministry Center. We are so lucky to have friends who help stock our clothing closet in order to help our homeless friends because they want to help. Karber, though, is simply using homeless people in his plan. This is not how we should be treating the homeless or any other human being.
–Stephanie Chan, GMC Program Manager