Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries is drawing fire for an interview he gave some seven years ago — in which he indicated the upscale clothing retailer isn't interested in selling to overweight women and "not-so-cool" kids.
"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," Jeffries said in a 2006 interview with the online magazine Salon.
"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," he said.
Some companies get into trouble by targeting too many people, "young, old, fat, skinny," he added.
The quotes were cited in a May 3 article in Business Insider, which touched off a firestorm of protest online.
"Shameful marketing that's bound to backfire," read one comment.
Retail expert and author Robin Lewis notes women's sizes at Abercrombie & Fitch, which has four locations in Canada, stop at large. There is no extra large or double extra large, though these sizes are available for men.
"Let's put it this way: Being overweight isn't sexy and cool. And that's their position," Lewis told CBC News.
Other stores including Club Monaco and True Religion do not offer bigger women's sizes, or only sell them online, according to Karen Ward, owner of the plus-size store Your Big Sister's Closet in Toronto.
Other retailers appear to be embracing the plus-sized market. H&M, which also targets a young and well-dressed crowd, recently drew praise for using a plus-sized model for its new line of swimwear.
Abercrombie & Fitch told CBC News it had no comment on this story.