WORDS FROM W.W. May 10, 2013
The CEO of the clothing chain, Abercrombie and Fitch, recently reiterated his business plan focus that A&F is for the hot and attractive young people. They don’t want larger sized people to wear their clothes, or be customers in their stores.
Cool, obviously, is everything!
CEO Mike Jeffries made this statement: “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.”
This is not a new position for A&F. Those words were said by Jeffries in a 2006 interview. The troubling thing is that even though we are irked by the arrogance, we go along with the philosophy. How can I say that? A&F is a 5 billion dollar company. The younger crowd drops money there like crazy! Teens and twentysomethings and “wanna-be twentysomethings” have bought into the idea that wearing A&F is an element of creating an image.
The arrogance of A&F is that they define what the image is, and expect the customer base to, pardon the pun, “fit into it.” Some of that arrogance has come out in several discrimination court cases involving minorities, the dismissal of an employee who wore a prosthetic forearm because she was told that her appearance breached the store’s “Look policy”, and the dismissal of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head scarf.
And yet people… the right people…continue to shop at the store like it is selling Beatle’s memorabilia…oops, wrong generation!
The concern I have is that I see some of that filtering into the church. I really do! Not that we should be surprised. The Corinthian church could have put an A&F logo out front, except using Greek letters. There was that little problem that had with consuming all the food and wine before everyone had arrived for the Agape Feast, the love meal. Knowing the culture, those who arrived early for the agape meal was mostly those who were more financially stable. The people who arrived later were mostly the ones who had to work long hours just to survive.
Can you say cool and not-cool?
Paul’s stress to the church at Corinth about being “the body of Christ” had immense relevance to what was going on there.
I know…I know, we usually talk about the church being twenty years behind the times. The point, however, is not whether we are behind the times or ahead of the masses. It is that the church is the one institution, the one organization, that it not to be exclusionary. It is the group that discards the labels that the rest of our culture slaps on us. The book of James cautions about discriminating between rich and poor in the seating arrangements. Jesus used sharp words towards his disciples who were trying to keep children from bothering him. The first century church reorganized in order to take care of the widows.
And yet there still seems to be a part of us that wants our church to be populated with the cool people. It’s the dirty little secret that testifies to our fallen nature.
The church should have a sign that says “A&O”, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, because the arms of Jesus are intended to cover everyone in between.