Forcing Your Old Abercrombie and Fitch Clothes on People is a Bad Idea

Upset about Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries’ recent explanation that his brand refuses to cater to plus-size people and would rather burn its returned clothes than donate them, an LA video producer named Greg Karber got a big idea: Give Abercrombie a “brand readjustment” by giving Abercrombie and Fitch clothes to people who are homeless.

The video and related hashtag are blowing up today online—the video has been viewed 1.2 million times—sparking mostly praise and warm fuzzy feelings among people who also think Abercrombie’s CEO is a jerk. But the campaign itself sends a terrible message and uses people experiencing homelessness as pawns.

Don’t get me wrong: Donating clothing to homeless shelters and charities is great. But as New York homeless-advocacy group Picture The Homeless explained,  “If you give to the homeless only to punish douchebags, you’re probably a douchebag yourself.”

In the video, Greg Karber takes to the streets of LA to give away Abercrombie clothes to homeless people, with excruciatingly awkward results. Karber strolls around, singling out people he thinks look homeless. Then he strides up to them and thrusts Abercrombie apparel at them.  Many people in the video are clearly made uncomfortable by a stranger approaching them and demanding they take his old pants. Many don’t want the clothes. He doesn’t offer them choices of clothes or even say hello. He seems to just force the Fitch upon them, then depart in search of more photo ops.

This clearly isn’t the kind of project where a person who is not homeless works collaboratively with folks who sleep on the streets as an ally to help them attain what they need and want in life. This is the kind of project where a dude demands homeless people be part of his media stunt, then makes a funny video about it.

Don’t label people homeless and then force your clothes on them all for a punchline, bro.

Writer Sara Luckey at Feminspire lays into the campaign’s exploitation of homeless folks,

“This isn’t how you treat people. This is how you treat disposable objects. It isn’t funny, noble, or helpful to try and stick it to Abercrombie and Fitch by using homeless people as the medium for your message. Would the American population at large be comfortable with any other minority group being used to make a brand look ‘bad’ by associating their clothing with that group?”

Homelessness is a major and persistent problem that’s worth talking about and helping make visible in the mainstream. And Abercrombie’s business decisions are demeaning. But forcing your Abercrombie clothes on people you perceive to be homeless isn’t good for anybody. 

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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33 Comments Have Been Posted

Thank you!

I just posted about this on Facebook and was wondering when some of the sites I follow would start offering their own commentary. Thanks for pointing out how problematic and gross this initiative is!

Thanks for posting about

Thanks for posting about this. I've been cringing about it since I saw it start popping up in my feed this morning.

wow. just... wow.

It's hard to believe he could have done this and not realized how awful it really is. I'm actually pretty speechless... except to say it's terrible.

Thank you for this. The whole

Thank you for this. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable but I couldn't articulate why. Thank you for now allowing me to do so.

Just as Bad

To label homeless people as a group that would "sully" the brand is just as bad as going "ew, fat people". This is a horribly classist, ignorant act. He seems to have started with the premise, "Who are the most undesirable group of people I can find to put these clothes on to exploit for this stunt? Oh I know, homeless people!" Labeling the homeless or poverty stricken as nasty makes him as judgmental as the CEO, in my mind. The video gave me a horrible feeling.

I see what you're saying. These people are being used to destroy a brand, but then again, no. I volunteer with the homeless regularly. I know that they need clothes; they don't care what they look like, usually. This person isn't using them for a publicity stunt. He is utilizing a hatred of a brand's douchbag business practices to energize people into becoming part of a cause. And, at the same time, he is using it to undermine those same douchbag business practices. I know some people who would get rid of their Ambercrombie products simply because they don't like what they are saying. Why not put utilize that to help less fortunate?


I don't think it is as bad as the writer of this article makes it seem. He'll if I could I would shove my chubby self into their clothing and parade around in it. He is stepping up and doing something instead of sitting around and complaining about it. In the article I feel like the writer was trying to take every little thing that this guy did and blow it up to try and get everyone to see it the same way.

Exactly how I feel about it.

Exactly how I feel about it. No one is making fun of people who are homeless or are needy here. A and F are the ones who have continuously heightened the bias against them, and not the people who are interested in "rebranding" the company, and it's A and F who make a profit by promoting that bias and maintaining that suffering.

Its not so bad...

I don't think the point is that A&F will look bad because homeless people inherently ruin a brand, the point is that your giving the clothes to exactly the people A&F doesn't want to wear them.

Thus playing into the

Thus playing into the mentality. My issue with it (beyond the way it was done, as opposed to simply donating the clothes to an organization to distribute them) is that they are actually playing into the superficial world that Mike Jeffries wants us to be in. By saying that you want to give A&F a brand adjustment away from the "cool people," it instantly labels those that are homeless or appear needy "uncool." It just furthers the divide.

Because people thought the homeless were cool before?

I hate to break it to you, the homeless are already "uncool". The reason everyone is jumping to their defense is because they are vulnerable andmarginalized and on the periphery of society which is inherently the opposite of "cool". "Cool" people are by definition as far from the periphery as you can get. Yes, this is more a statement about corporate responsibility than it is the homeless crisis, but considering the last project on the homeless I saw encouraged people to merely make eye contact with people they meet on the street, I think anything that encourages people to be involved with the homeless community is a plus. Yes, this was a stunt, but it was also a call to action to donate viewers' clothes in a more traditional and accepted fashion. Calls to action need attention to work. Look for net positives here.

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What's up colleagues, how is all, and what you wish for to say on the topic of this piece of writing, in my view its really remarkable for me.

It was Abercrombie and Mike

It was Abercrombie and Mike Jeffries who stated that the poor are unworthy of wearing their clothes. They would rather see their clothes burned than a poor person wearing it. The whole point of this video was to show that the poorest of poor are not unworthy of their clothes.

college students become homeless

I teach at a community college and work in our counseling office. Each of the past 3 school years I've worked with one or two college students who have become homeless while in school. They usually desperately try to stay in their courses, and as a life coach I help mediate with their teachers to make up missed classes and work. Homelessness might be affecting that classmate sitting next to you!


Actually, yes this sort of thing is done all the time in fact. Many second wave feminist rallies are done this way. Boobquake, slutwalk, etc.


In those cases, the participants are willingly part of the movement. In this case, they are not.

There's a big difference between "forcing" and "giving"

[fawrs, fohrs] Show IPA noun, verb, forced, forc·ing.
physical power or strength possessed by a living being: He used all his force in opening the window.
strength or power exerted upon an object; physical coercion; violence: to use force to open the window; to use force on a person.
strength; energy; power; intensity: a personality of great force.
power to influence, affect, or control; efficacious power: the force of circumstances; a force for law and order.
Law. unlawful violence threatened or committed against persons or property.

[giv] Show IPA verb, gave, giv·en, giv·ing, noun
verb (used with object)
to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow: to give a birthday present to someone.
to hand to someone: Give me that plate, please.
to place in someone's care: If you give me your coat, I'll put it in the closet.
to grant (permission, opportunity, etc.) to someone: Give me a chance.
to impart or communicate: to give advice; to give a cold to someone.

This fellow did not "force" his clothes on people who were (likely) (very) grateful to have them. He did not strong arm them, "coerce", hold them at gun point, or threaten them. He did not bully them into taking it. If he had, THAT, would be forcing it.

He gave them to the people. He "presented" them "voluntarily without expecting compensation". (Both taken from

You don't have to agree with the way he made his point, but before you lambast him and froth it up to something it isn't, consider the actual definitions of the words you're using as good journalism leaves the melodrama behind. If there were actual "coercion" and "force" involved with the way he chose his point, I'd be more apt to agree. But given there was none, it would perhaps be better to say something like "a poor effort to make a point by giving" as he gave. I saw no jamming of said shirts down their throats. They accepted them.

As would you if you had no home, and no means to buy clothes. Perhaps consider that the next time you're in a dressing room, trying on something you're able to purchase with your paycheck, then as you put it away in your warm, likely full closet.

Personally, I am in full agreement with his efforts for two reasons. One, he's creating awareness of two issues: Homelessness and the fact they struggle to find clothing every day of their life and something can be done about it. His actions are forcing us to really look at them (perhaps that's really where the anger about his video comes from?)

Secondly, he's further forcing people to look at something else that's rampant in our country: Discrimination. That's what Ambercrombie's CEO is doing, plain and simple. He's discriminating against "non-pretty" people. If you don't pass a "beautiful" test you may not even be hired, let alone work in the two parts of the store (a certain score below a number means you can't be in the more "public" area.

So which is more egregious? The fact he's forcing us to look at a terrible plight of people we ignore to the best possible way we can as it makes us uncomfortable? Or that if you're considered "ugly" and "non-cool", or "fat" that it's okay not to hire you for that reason? Or to be told, to your face, you're too "ugly", "non-cool" and fat?

Truly -- which is worse? The awareness he created in you as you watched the video? Or someone telling you you're too fat and ugly to wear their clothes?

What you were "forced" to see was their plight. Again, you don't have to like or agree with his methods, but the only "forcing" that went on was that you had a blinding moment of awareness of people that we do our best not to see.

You can disagree with someone's methods, but over-describing leaves readers less apt to consider that viewpoint.

Cutting and pasting

Cutting and pasting definitions to split hairs over semantics makes your rebuttal melodramatic. Forced is a good word to describe the antics. These humble and unassuming people (if you watch the video critically) don't appear grateful. They appear confused, even perturbed. Even you can only say they're "likely" grateful. Give me a break!

He has to drape the shirts over the reluctant homeless person (looking gaunt and tired) and then he walks away as viewers are left to squirm watching a vulnerable human being piece together what's going on and why is it being filmed.

This stunt is elitist and misguided. Give to the homeless - great - but don't exploit their need for a publicity stunt to "teach" some other elitist d-bag a lesson.

If you can't figure this simple connection out, it's because you're ignorant of what the gesture symbolizes.

Beggers can't be choosers. Do

Beggers can't be choosers. Do you think Western governments tying conditions to aid is not a pawn based chess game too. They are under no obligation to accept / keep the clothes.

Who was begging? These

Who was begging? These people were not begging. And look at what you said: those in need have no rights to choose. (Choice = consent.)

Compounding the douchebaggery

Way to prove you're just as uncaring and thoughtless as the people you're protesting.

Just make a genuine donation then.

Ive had multiple contributions made to the homeless in my community. The last batch of clothes i donated actually had a couple fitch shirts in them. This was about a month ago. If i donate again in the future, and a fitch shirt is included, it doesn't make me a bad person. People tossing only their fitch items to help those in need? Yeah, the motivation is a little sour.

If your intentions were genuine and you give them items they can actually use (winter coats, hats, gloves, boots, food), then nobody in the world can judge you, because while people are out there writing papers and articles complaining about people complaining (this article), there are people out there who actually do something about it.

Get off your asses and do something positive you useless internet "intellectuals".

one doesn't impede the other

You know you can complain about a shitty situation, write articles about it and still donate clothes to the needy, right? Doing one doesn't automatically make you unable to do the other.


I don't think he intentionally set out to use the homeless as a "punch line," but I think he should have explained himself to the people he encountered. If he explained the uncharitable business practices of Abercrombie, it wouldn't have left the homeless people so confused. I think a better method would have been to leave the clothing, so the individuals could choose whether or not they wanted the clothing.

I agree other than the last

I agree other than the last woman's comment. I feel people are not donating the clothes to just destroy the reputation of A&F and just using homeless people as a tool to do so, but to bring down the idea that "fat" people and homeless people cannot wear their clothes. It's more of a f**k you to A&F. I think it would be better if everyone gave away all their clothes to shelters and thrift stores from these horrible companies and homeless people and/or overweight people can choose to destroy the A&F image on their own. A few of my couch surfing friends/part time homeless have been purposely picking out A&F and taking photos and putting them online. If lots of people do this soon google images will be flooded with all sorts of people rather than white/fit/rich people. I say we even put it on animals and everything. cut them up and repurpose them, take a photo, upload it.

This brand of clothing is

This brand of clothing is very cheaply made and not durable. It is useless to anyone who is actually living out in the elements. It does not hold up well at all. And it has no street value to trade/sell it for food or shelter.

If you care about homeless people and are unable to volunteer or donate money to a legit cause, please at least donate durable, useful goods and clothing.

Thank you.

Yeah, that's the point. This

Yeah, that's the point. This guy DOESN'T actually care about the poor. He's making a point to Abercrombie, like "You don't like ugly people in your clothes? Well, I'll put the ugliest people I can find in them! Homeless people!" He's an Asshat.


Gimme a break. Was this article secretly sponsered by A&F? The maker of the expose treated the people to which he handed the clothes the same way he would have treated any person. I saw no disrespect. On the contrary, he was open and normal with the people, instead of treating them like "others" the way some commenters here are suggesting.

Stop looking for things to get needlessly offended over and start working on real change. the way Greg Karber is.

donate them to a homeless shelter

I agree with several points of the author.

How about donating the clothing to a homeless shelter.

#Fitchthehomeless is a viral

#Fitchthehomeless is a viral movement to spite A&F and make them the no. 1 brand of the homeless. Many believe that the whole idea is degrading because the homeless people are being used to contrast the idea of cool by positioning them as "unworthy," or lesser human beings. And it’s not clear whether, from the homeless perspective, this stunt is actually helping anything.

In response, P1124 has started a “Wear One, Share One” campaign to clothe the same homeless people on Skid Row. But unlike the #fitchthehomeless movement, whose goal is to shame Abercrombie without regard to the wellbeing of the homeless, P1124's sole goal is to uplift and bless the homeless. The “Wear One, Share One” Campaign is simple; buy one shirt, get two, one to wear, one to share. Lets #uplifthehomeless, and show them that they are worthy of receiving the same new clothes that we purchase for ourselves. Make P1124 the title of no. 1 brand of the homeless.

Watch the video:

Learn more about the movement:


I like to wear Abercrombie clothing. Though, I understand the controversy. What was said about (putting it nicely), larger individuals, or as I say big boned individuals....the CEO should have been RESPECTFULL enough to explain why his clothes do not cater to these types of individuals. However, why not fit the mens?

I do not shop at Lane Bryant.... Do they cater to skinny size individuals? No... So why would I go there? Yes, I am a size 2, and yes, I wear Abercrombie, because it fits me. Though, I buy a larger size, cause I do not like it tight.

Sorry, but I will continue to purchase Abercrombie or Hollister...... ^o^

"This isn't how you treat

"This isn't how you treat people. This is how you treat disposable objects. It isn't funny, noble, or helpful to try and stick it to Abercrombie and Fitch by using homeless people as the medium for your message. Would the American population at large be comfortable with any other minority group being used to make a brand look 'bad' by associating their clothing with that group?"

The guy isn't trying to exploit people experiencing homelessness. He's saying, "Together let's make A&F America's # 1 brand for homeless apparel", meaning, he cares about homeless people and large women and doesn't appreciate the CEO's bias against them and his point is "let's turn the guy's brand against him, into exactly what he doesn't want it to be, which is "homeless" apparel." The homeless aren't always going to be well educated or healthy enough mentally to understand what his point is when he randomly walks up to them to hand them a pair of pants. In that instance it wasn't about whether or not they'd wear the pants you saw in the video, (for the stranger on the street it was just a goofy guy running around giving people clothes for 5 minutes) it was about creating a short creative video in which to make people aware that A&F's ugly CEO doesn't care for anyone less than perfect and we should make his clothes as worthless as he views the people he doesn't want wearing them.

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