It is the end of an era for the Abercrombie company. Mike Jeffries, the controversial 70-year-old CEO, is stepping down after years of declining sales and a new push to rebrand the flailing company. Jeffries will no longer be CEO or a member of the board and earlier this year was demoted from his chairman position at the company.
Jeffries brought Abercrombie & Fitch to the height of its popularity in the 90s and early aughts, marketing the label as the brand the “cool kids” wear and creating an in-store experience unlike any other teen retailer at the time. Over the years, the company has come under fire for racial discrimination (it used to relegate workers of color to the stockroom), selling thongs and push-up bras to 10 year olds and its look policy, which discriminated against Muslim workers.
Abercrombie has also come under fire for not catering to larger customers, a situation that Jeffries seemed to have no problem with. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends,” he told Salon in 2006. “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Abercrombie is currently on the hunt for someone to fill the position and help improve its image with consumers. Teen retailers have been floundering thanks to the popularity of stores like H&M and Zara that provide trendy, more affordable options. It will be important for the next CEO to figure out how to get the company back on top.
Following the announcement of his departure, Abercrombie stock has already gone up 7.8 percent.