Abercrombie & Fitch: Kicking Asians When They’re Down

April 28, 2002 - Race

I always walked by Abercrombie & Fitch stores with a sort of uneasiness. And when I did enter, it just never felt right, I never felt comfortable. Corporate Abercrombie never catered to me and seemed to trickle down to the wooden walls of the popular franchise.

With this recent incident, it only confirms to me what types of people are running the show for Abercrombie & Fitch.

The first appearance of Asians appears on a new line of t-shirts recently released by the retail store. Excited? Only if you’re a Ku Klux Klan member sick of the wearing white after Labor Day. The line of t-shirts depicts Asians with slanty-eyes, buckteeth, and wearing rice-hats.

Abercrombie Racist T-Shirts - Wok and Bowl Abercrombie Racist T-Shirts - Wong Brothers

“We personally thought Asians would love this T-shirt” Abercrombie spokesman Hampton Carney said. The spokesperson reportedly also said “As a corporation, we just weren’t satisfied with the market penetration we were receiving for skinheads age 18-25.”

“The shirts were designed to appeal to young Asian shoppers with a sense of humor.” Carney added.

Shit. I didn’t know that having a self-hating and self-loathing senses of humor were also Asian stereotypes. There’s an idea for your sweatshirts.

Listen, take your finger out of your nose and quit saying “duh” for a second, maybe you shouldn’t be taking focus groups from prison skinheads you braindead fucks.

Abercrombie Racist T-Shirts - Rickshaw's

“We never single out any one group to poke fun at,” Carney said. “We poke fun at everybody, from women to flight attendants to baggage handlers, to football coaches, to Irish Americans to snow skiers. There’s really no group we haven’t teased.”

Is this guy still fucking talking? You’re charging $70 for cargo pants with racist caricatures and you can’t hire a better spokesperson? Hire a fucking monkey — at least I would laugh and would have something redeemable to say only because you lightened my mood.

I really shouldn’t blame it on the entire company, I mean all it takes is one stupid idea by one stupid designer, A&F should really single his/her ass out and fire them. Wait, with a company like this, its not just one designer its a whole klan of designers… and the project manager would have to approve it, and their boss to say “What a great idea!” and a a focus group from Alabama and one stupid-ass marketing team to give it the thumbs-up and… you get the idea.

Abercrombie Racist T-Shirts - Buddha Bash

I think the worst thing about this whole ordeal was the way Asians/Asian-Americans were treated previous to the whole fiasco. Or should I say the lack there of?

This stings so much more when I think back to the many times I looked through their catalogs and didn’t see one Asian person, not one. At the time I just lumped it into every other medium that was a couple high-press protests and broken glass windows away from sticking a token Asian neighbor in just to appease the riled-upped masses. I thought that A&F, like most things, would come around eventually.

So much for patience, Mom.

This is much larger than just Abercrombie and Fitch, this is more about Asians finally standing up for themselves. Although my attempts at humor basically align them with the worst racists this country has to offer, they’re not a racist company per se. Abercrombie has been a multi-million dollar company for years with a very successful formula. They don’t push the edge of fashion, they are reliable, unadventurous, and traditional. They reflect the ideology of the community they cater to.

And therein lies the problem.

Abercrombie Racist T-Shirts - Eat in or Wok Out

Abercrombie just happened to be the ones to make the inevitable mistake. They took the mentality that exists in the United States where Asians being put-down is a more accepted form of discrimination. Everyone knows its wrong to generalize/put down African-Americans because if you do, they rightfully make noise.

This is where we take our cue from. We need to make noise also kids, starting with Abercrombie, but we don’t stop there. We cannot go back to quietly driving around in our souped-upped Hondas (or not quietly i’ll never understand why), doing math and receiving our bachelors in engineering because the Gap is in the T-shirt business too and i’m sure they’re licking their chops to drill into the untapped riches of garment-dyed ignorance.

Originally published on GayWired.com.

› tags: abercrombie & fitch / Asian / asian racism / Racism / Racist retail / Racist t-shirts /

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