“Fitch” the Homeless? No Thanks

This video is going viral:

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A lot of people I like and respect are sharing it and saying “right on.” When I first watched, I thought it seemed like a fun bit of payback for the despicable behavior of clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch. On a second viewing, however, it began to leave a bad taste.

Prior to last month, I only knew A&F for their soft-porn catalogs and ads, and then CEO Mike Jeffries dropped this turd in the punchbowl:

[W]e hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.

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. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.

Okay, so we have a shallow, materialist jerk catering to other shallow, materialist jerks. I cannot tell you how little this actually affects me, but it does move A&F from my “indifferent” column to my “jackasses” column.

Therefore, it might seem like a fair turnaround to make sure Mike Jeffries’ clothes are worn by a many non-cool-kids as possible.

But where do the homeless figure into the equation? This stunt is based on the exact same premise offered by Jeffries: that some people are “unworthy” to wear A&F clothes. The hipster doofus handing out A&F clothing to people on the street is doing it because he accepts the notion that they’re somehow lesser than “the rest of us.” His stunt has no bite without this assumption.

And the guy in the video is just passing out clothes to random people, without any sense of whether or not the clothes are wanted or even fit. He gives something to a decidedly plus-sized woman when we already know A&F doesn’t make plus sized clothing. These people are just being used as props.

In short, their humanity and dignity is denied so a callow twit can burnish his reputation as a Right Thinker. And to what end? The sort of people shallow enough to care what company makes a shirt aren’t likely to get any message. The brand isn’t diminished.

In the end, the whole thing reminded me of Kramer and Newman using the homeless to pull rickshaws: “they’re always walking around the city: why not just strap something to them!” It’s just using people, instead of seeing them as people.

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UPDATE: Some comments here and on social media seem to think I missed that he was doing this because A&F allegedly destroys damaged or unsold clothing rather than donating them in order to keep them out of thrift stores and clothing banks. I watched the video 3 times, so … no, I didn’t miss that point. I just don’t see how it changes a thing. We still get someone who thinks he can score points on A&F by distributing their clothes to the poor, and the only reason those points can be scored is because he accepts the premise that these are unworthy people.

I really do see the appeal of the video. I didn’t think twice about it after seeing it once. But after watching it a second time, I focused on the details and began wondering what point was being made, at whose expense, and to what end? What is the purpose? What are the assumptions? What is the goal?

If you think it’s just an amusing stunt, then I get that.

But if you think it’s making some point about the self-image of a self-selecting elite, and you want to subvert that image and the corporation promoting it, think closely about how you’re going about it. Is someone being exploited in the process? Are you accepting the very assumptions you’re criticizing? And do the people you’re using know if, how, why, and for what purpose they’re being used?

What A&F does with their used clothing is irrelevant. How we as individuals view and treat those in need, however, matters a great deal. The video guy’s real mission was right in front of him, on the street, in the form of humans in need of love and hope, but he barely gave them a second glance because he wasn’t working for them: he was working for the camera and audience. I have to assume his intentions are good: I’m just not sure what those intentions are.

UPDATE 2: Turns out I’m not the only one made uncomfortable by this.

A follow-up post is here.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Fitch the Homeless is exploitation, pure and simple. And assuming that the hipster doofus in question purchased those A&F clothes legally, it really only helps A&F (not to mention there’s no such thing as bad publicity, if you’re A&F). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this was actually viral marketing ploy by A&F itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heidi.keith.7 Heidi Keith

    I don’t think he’s using the homeless as pawns. There is no denying that the homeless are not the ” cool kids” so when the cool kids see the homeless all wearing A and F hopefully they will decide the brand is now uncool and stop buying it. That Jeffries guy is such an idiot I would love to see his clothes be the ones nobody wants!

  • http://www.facebook.com/heidi.keith.7 Heidi Keith

    It seems like you didn’t watch the video, he bought them from Goodwill, how does that help the company?

  • http://www.facebook.com/bonnie.s.melton Bonnie Melton

    He’s responding to A&F’s policy of burning their irregulars as opposed to donating them-for the purpose of avoiding clothing those they deem to be “not cool” yeah- sorry you got this all wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bonnie.s.melton Bonnie Melton

    Yeah, Please avoid comment unless you actually have seen the video.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bonnie.s.melton Bonnie Melton

    We’re all missing the point … he didn’t define the homeless as “not cool” A&F did by refusing to donate unsellable clothing.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    Actually, you got it all wrong, because you completely missed my point. I know what he thinks he’s doing, but he’s actually doing is using the poor as props to make himself look cool while making a dubious and worthless point.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    Yes, and he accepts that definition. If he wants to prove that uncool people can wear their clothes, let him wear them himself. But of course, he, too, thinks he’s “cool.”

  • Katie

    I can’t knock a guy for donating to the homeless, no matter what the motive is behind it. Honestly, I think your argument can be made about any kind of donation. If I clean out my closet and donate my clothes to charity, someone could say, “Oh, those clothes aren’t good enough for you, so a ‘lesser’ person, who is homeless, should want them?” I think this just has a double-edged sword in that it gets more people to donate to those in need AND it sticks it to a corporate d-bag.

    A better comparison, if you’re going to use a Seinfeld reference, would be “The Muffin Tops”. :)

  • Nicholas Haggin

    Tom is right on here; we can protest A&F’s asshattery as well as their policy of destroying slightly imperfect but usable clothes without exploiting people to do it. Pay close attention to Greg Karber’s behavior in the Skid Row scenes: he is not engaging the homeless people he comes across as fellow human beings. He’s not introducing himself, or talking to them, or even asking if they want what he’s handing out. He just dumps the clothes and walks away, which is what you do when the poor are valuable only insofar as you can use them to make a statement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericalovesreadingandwriting Erica Grammar-Nazi Martin

    You have it ALL wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericalovesreadingandwriting Erica Grammar-Nazi Martin

    First off, the video was edited, so you have no idea what he does or doesn’t do. And secondly, he’s more appalled that they burn the clothes instead of donating them, so he’s doing exactly that.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    Yes, that’s my point.

  • Nicholas Haggin

    If you want to make any kind of coherent video, you have to edit it in some way; paradoxically, raw footage may communicate worse than an edited production. I maintain that, even in edited form, he has shown enough of his actions on Skid Row to demonstrate Tom’s point and mine.

    I don’t think Karber is malicious; that is, I don’t think he sees the philosophical problems underlying the approach he takes. The problems remain, though, and I cannot approve of his project.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericalovesreadingandwriting Erica Grammar-Nazi Martin

    Well, a lot of people do, so your opinion is irrelevant :)

  • jmt

    ah, another lots of people’ sticking their ‘tongue’ out, or at least trying

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    NEVER! :-) Does it matter where he got the clothes if he’s turning people into walking billboards?

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Presumably most people donate clothing to the poor in order to help them stay warm and comfortable, not because you want to make a point as to how pathetically uncool they are.
    But as someone earlier pointed out, I’ve got too much dignity and self-respect — not to mention a highly sensitive gag relfex — to actually watch anything with hipsters in it.

  • Somewhat Intelligent

    I think you’ve put too much thought into this. Abercombie and Fitch is an exclusive brand which targets the highest class. This fellow is giving away (for free) their clothing to the lowest class, (Keep in mind class only dictates a persons wealth and success, not ideals and personality) thus reversing the brands image and possibly making a couple people’s day as well. I did not see any name advertisements or personal praise pointing to the idea that he’s trying to make himself look cool. This is a GOOD thing.

  • JeremyJ

    One doesn’t have to accept the premise that the homeless are unworthy in
    order to do this, it is simply a realization that A&F believes that
    the homeless are unworthy people and acting in spite of A&F’s
    superficial convictions.

  • Kate

    I don’t think his point is that the homeless are less as people, but that since Jeffries himself perceives them as less, this is a good way to piss him off by doing what Jeffries explicitly stated he is opposed to. Maybe it’s petty, and I see your point about “using” the homeless in this video. I will agree there. But the idea itself (and it’s effectiveness) is based on the bigotry of others. Do you genuinely believe this won’t diminish the brand? The shallow people you think won’t be affected are the ONLY people in the world who would care if homeless people wear the same clothes as them. Because they’re the only people who see homeless people as less.

    It’s weird to me that your nose is more bent out of joint by an attempt at activism (even if in your opinion it’s wrongheaded – and it may be) than hate-filled remarks by a shallow cretin with far more power and influence than some kid with a camera.

  • Chris Molcasso

    Stop being dramatic. yeah I get what you are saying that homeless are being viewed as unequal, but they are still in need of new clothes so even though this “good deed” was/is being done out of hate at least this “hipster doofus” is doing something for the good of society regardless of his reasons for doing them

  • Marcus

    Can’t be honestly compared to the Seinfeld example. Kramer had something tangible to gain from using the homeless as workers. What does the “hipster” have to gain? Popularity? Let him have it. Homeless people get clothes, A&F gets exposed for the horrible brand it is, and people get to feel like they’ve accomplished something. Win-win.

  • Pingback: Stop posting that viral video about the kid who wants to “Fitch the Homeless.” | Rachel Bunting()

  • twodiamonds

    If you’re responding to a statement that a company burns clothes, so homeless people can’t have them, by giving homeless people those clothes, how are they props? Who else would you give them to, in this scenario? You don’t have to solve someone’s every problem to involve them in a discourse, and you don’t have to make best friends with them either.

  • http://twitter.com/Renzanity Renzanity

    Again, because homeless people are wearing the clothes it sends a subliminal message that the brand is to be regarded as lesser. We have come full circle.

  • http://twitter.com/Renzanity Renzanity

    Then why not explain? Your comments are only taunting and sound self-worthy; you do not explain anything. It doesn’t make you sound any more important.

  • Arron Dior

    Missed the point entirely. The video is about publicly shaming this CEO and A&F. Every clothing company on the planet markets their brand by hiring good looking people to wear their clothes. A&F has taken the marketing of the brand to such extremes, that they would rather burn their clothes than have them be seen on a homeless person. The hipster finds this morally objectionable and asks viewers to donate all of their A&F clothing to the homeless. There is also the subtext here that you shouldn’t support A&F with your business because of the elitism they promote.

    The stunt here isn’t giving the clothes to uncool people, rather the stunt here is GETTING RID OF YOUR A&F clothes altogether by donating them to charity and not buying from A&F in the future. Really dude, how did you miss that?

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Then why has Abercrombie & Fitch’s stock price done nothing but rise over the day-and-a-half since this video was released? There is no such thing as bad publicity if you’re A&F.

  • Andrew

    He isn’t implying the homeless are unworthy, the A&F CEO is. It’s obvious what that company stands for and this man is undermining that. It’s like saying a counter-protest of a KKK rally (a counter-protest that would consist largely of black people and other minorities) is shaming or exploiting minorities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stefan.leenaars Stefan Leenaars

    I disagree. I understand why you see it as such, but I think you don’t understand that the only reason he is giving the clothes to the homeless, isn’t because the film maker himself sees them as a good vehicle for a smear campaign, but because A&F sees these people as unworthy.This is a brand is obsesses with physical appearance and the image of the successful white popular and thin college kid. So for them being branded ‘The homeless brand’ is literally their worst nightmare. But it shouldn’t be, and that is what he is challenging. I’m sure that if the video maker himself was the owner of a brand and that brand got know as the nr1 brand worn by the homeless, he wouldn’t see this as a negative at all. I suppose he could have gone out to give big sized people these clothes (which they then couldn’t use because they wouldn’t fit.) but let us not forget that the homeless are the group mostly in need of free clean clothing. It’s a good protest and helping people out at the same time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericalovesreadingandwriting Erica Grammar-Nazi Martin

    I don’t have to explain myself to you or anyone. It’s a shame you’re too dense to see the true point of the video.

  • http://www.steponitvelma.com/ Vestal Vespa

    “Do you genuinely believe this won’t diminish the brand? The shallow people you think won’t be affected are the ONLY people in the world who would care if homeless people wear the same clothes as them. Because they’re the only people who see homeless people as less.”
    I don’t think this will diminish the brand. The brand, as the author of the video notes, is already synonymous with “date rapist,” so A&F doesn’t really have far to go, first of all. Second of all, if the CEO of A&F takes note of this “activism” at all, which I doubt, it won’t be because his heart grew three times today because he was actually alerted to the plight of the poor or the fat. This is only activism insofar as the guy is using the homeless as a billboard for what is essentially a middle/upper class complaint: some people can’t buy A&F clothes because their bodies don’t fit the brand (not, presumably, because they can’t afford to).
    In the end, the message the video is trying to enforce is that CEOs are assholes who don’t know what it’s like to be an average American. As a former executive assistant, I could have told you that. The brand is already associated with douchebaggery, and it doesn’t seem to matter much to the guy in charge. There’s gotta be a better approach to calling the guy on it than draping the homeless in douchebag regalia.

  • IrenaeusSaintonge

    I am more inclined to interpret it along the lines of “What, A&F says you should not wear their clothing? Well HA, here you go, have some anyway!” It was not really meant to be incisive social commentary. And ultimately giving clothing to homeless people is a praiseworthy act of charity.

    I guess I do not see a huge need to read any deeper into it than that. I do not see anybody being exploited. I see poor people getting some free clothing, and I see a dumb company being criticized. I would rather not question unnecessarily the motives of the guy in the video.

  • Gillian Carter

    I disagree. I don’t believe this is accepting the premise that the homeless are “less worthy”. I think it’s accepting the premise that Mike Jeffries THINKS certain groups (including the homeless, no doubt) are “less worthy”–and the point of this video is saying “YOU DON’T GET TO MAKE THAT CALL”. It’s not an attempt to reinforce a perception, but to change it.

  • Monica

    The biggest thing that struck me about this is that Abercrombie allegedly burns its excess clothes. It’s just not acceptable. In my opinion, part one of this video’s purpose is to draw attention to the heinous things that Jeffries said about the brand, and part two is to turn the public’s anger with A&F into a positive act. Instead of reacting with disgust and throwing away all the A&F mistakes in our closet, let’s give them to those that need to be clothed, regardless of the label. The homeless deserve our attention, and our help. We could all sit back and complain about how awful A&F is, or we could turn this on its head and make a difference. I would hope that in the future, we all try to turn our disappointments into opportunities.

  • Alex

    I’m going to just leave my opinion. I respect the author’s, as well as anyone else’s, and I ask that you respect mine and leave it be rather than trying to correct it.

    From my point of view, the kid was trying to piss the CEO off. I believe the CEO would eventually take notice that every homeless person on the streets are suddenly draped in A&F clothes. I don’t think he would like it. Furthermore, from the way I see it, he wasn’t seeing them as ‘less’. He was exploiting the CEO’s vision of ‘less’ and trying to piss him off in this way. Furthermore, he was handing the clothes out to people whom appeared, well, poor or homeless. You cannot tell me that if you were poor or homeless you wouldn’t accept clothing because it didn’t fit you. A nice shirt could make for a nice blanket for someone without a home. But, it doesn’t matter. My opinion is mine, the author’s opinion is his, yours is yours, and the video maker’s is his.

    Yes, I realize my grammar might be fucked up in some places. Get over it.

  • Alex

    Because it takes more than one person to do something. Lol. I’d be willing to bet that very few people, other than the OP, did it. The people who shared/approved/like/etc. the video and have the power to help, but don’t help, are the REAL hipsters. Even if the kid is just being a hipster, at least he is doing something and homeless are receiving useful items that they can use as blankets, attire, or whatever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Bailey/574921883 Jason Bailey

    After watching the video I Googled “Fitch the Homeless” hoping to find someone with this view. The video made me feel like his point was to rebrand the image by putting A&F clothes on the lowest of society. I feel like it’s kind of cruel to the homeless people.

    When the video first started, I was hoping it was going to go in a different direction. I was hoping he was going to encourage people to donate A&F clothing to any or all charities such as Good Will. Why such a specific group? I don’t know how to explain it, but the video just made me feel weird.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Bailey/574921883 Jason Bailey

    Actually, this guy Victor below described how I’m feeling.

    “Presumably most people donate clothing to the poor in order to help them stay warm and comfortable, not because you want to make a point as to how pathetically uncool they are.”

  • Hannah W

    So “we” shouldn’t wear A&F ever again, but homeless and poor people should? Do you see how he is making a distinction here? Why not hand them out to fat people and all of the less than popular kids at schools as well?

  • http://www.facebook.com/anonieme.reacties Anonieme Reacties

    Jeffries is Arrogant & Forgettable. More power to Karber.

  • randomiam

    I think the name-calling you use against a man with nothing but the best intentions makes you no different than the AF CEO. The man in the video isn’t asking people to hand out clothes to the homeless like he did, he is asking that they donate the clothes to a homeless shelter. And his handing the clothes out to the homeless isn’t because HE assumes they are “unworthy,” he does it because the CEO thinks them unworthy. People like you, who just have to nit-pick and see the worst in everything and everyone, you just do more harm than good.

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Yes. One might even say “how hipsterish” of me!

  • Erica Westrich

    This is just a suggestion–because I want to interpret the video guy in the most favorable light possible–can we view his actions as a means to raise the status of the homeless? Since burning clothes that could have gone to the homeless can be seen as an offense against them, maybe by bringing the homeless into this video, the video guy brought them into the conversation. It’s as if he is saying “Hey you are relevant and when corporations try to treat you like sh!t, we are going to stand up for you and here is how we’re doing it? Do you want to be active in this activity, since it concerns you?” I know I might be giving him too much credit (yah I probably am) but I like the premise of his idea. I do agree that the video could have been done differently, and it did leave a weird feeling with me after I watched it a second time.

  • randomiam

    I was homeless for 3 years, and currently live in a part of my city that is severely poverty-stricken, so I have enough experience with it, thank you.

  • randomiam

    p.s. Donating clothing, and starting a viral online movement to get others to donate clothing to homeless shelters is, in fact, helping the homeless. It’s helping them an awful lot more than your whining about exploitation of the homeless is helping them. Peace!

  • http://www.lolpervs.com/ Daisee Dukes

    I absolutely agree that the disenfranchised are used as pawns in his so-called protest video. He is using the homeless to advance his anti-Abercrombie agenda.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F57h1Zwf5SI

  • http://twitter.com/Humaniterrist Chuck Hirschbine

    ok…So when is ANYBODY going to ask what an employee of A&F thinks about this whole issue, never mind that the article this is based on came out 7 years ago.

  • tedseeber

    Dignity seems awfully hard for Americans to understand.

  • IrenaeusSaintonge

    Well if he was giving clothing to people who obviously would not fit into it, then that’s kind of silly. I really did not notice. I will draw no conclusions from that.

    As to the rest, I do not think it is appropriate to judge his motivations in such a way. In fact I think it is highly uncharitable to do so.

  • Sam

    Stick to your guns. There are plenty of sensible non-reactionary people who agree with you. I was actually disgusted by the video on first viewing. The way the film maker is treating the homeless in it actually made me cry. Where is the respect for those poor, poor people? The film maker is every bit as disrespectful and heartless as the man about whom he is complaining. How dare he treat other human beings this way and in the same breath as criticising someone for treating other people badly.

  • lyle

    He’s not accepting the premise of the A&F CEO by any means. He’s directly spitting on it. A&F exists so that douchebag teenagers can spend 40 bucks of their parents’ money on the worlds most boring T shirt and then claim to be trendier than everybody else, and to ensure this stays the case, A&F destroys clothing rather than donating it. These people are the only people that care what homeless people wear, to the point where they destroy something that could keep someone warm at night or be used to spitshine shoes for change. That’s what he has a problem with. He’s not operating on the same premise, he’s responding directly to the attitude.

    As for “exploiting the homeless,” honestly, I think the homeless really couldn’t give a shit less. I think if anything it’s more offensive to the homeless that you’re saying “DONT GIVE THESE PEOPLE FREE CLOTHES, THATS OFFENSIVE TO THEM! I HAVE DECLARED THIS AS AMBASSADOR OF HOMELESS PEOPLE!” Because of this guy, there will be an influx of clothing donated to homeless shelters and that’s ultimately what he wants to accomplish. A&Fs refusal to do so and snooty attitude about it is what he’s protesting in the first place. I’d be willing to bet more homeless people would support that cause than be offended by it. If they feel exploited by it they don’t have to wear them, but you can let them make that decision. At very least give them the option to have a free shirt.

  • PazuzuIE

    no. he does the opposite. in my opinion he states that homeless have the same worth and should not be excluded from wearing these clothes. it’s not about “look at the trash wearing your clothes” it’s more “look everybody can wear it, even the ones you don’t want to wear them”.

  • JW

    Actually, most homeless services agencies have to beg for every resource EXCEPT clothing. Trust me. I worked for one. Americans go through clothes like they’re made to be disposable. It’s the easiest, laziest thing in the world to dump your clothes off at a shelter or Goodwill. The organization I worked for got so many clothes each week we couldn’t get rid of them. Much of it was garbage that wasn’t appropriate to give to other people (homeless or not). The items that we couldn’t give to homeless individuals in our community we had to ship off to a charity in Honduras, hoping they could use them. That required extra volunteers to do sorting for us that we really couldn’t spare. Just donating your old junk to a homeless shelter is often more of a burden than a help. Think before you donate. What do these people actually need? How about cracking open your wallet and making a donation that causes you to feel it a little.

  • GDW13

    This is one way to interpret the campaign. Another way to interpret it is that he is also making a statement on the stigma of being homeless and that being homeless actually doesn’t make you less of a person. That’s how I view it anyway.

  • Modest Fatty

    When I originally saw the video, I thought it was great that someone was giving the public motivation to go out and buy name-brand clothing and distributing it to the homeless. I suggest that the author go to a homeless shelter and see what kind of “clothing” (better termed “rags” in most cases) before he gets snobby about what the homeless are given. A&F’s dislike of the homeless is equated with their dislike of plus-sized people. That doesn’t make either group “unworthy.”
    As an XXL sized person myself, I feel that the author’s premise here is that the homeless are just as unworthy as I am to wear A&F clothing. It goes both ways. That’s offensive.
    I still think this is a good thing. After I watched it, I wanted to go find A&F clothes and give them to the homeless because I think they have the same dignity I have.

  • Bee

    I’m getting sick of people taking a good thing and complaining about it. Yeah maybe he did use them as props but that’s not the point. People who knit-pick good deeds need to find better things to do with their time. Do you find fault with feeding the homeless as well because perhaps they don’t have picky tastes?

    Stop using your time to whine and criticize and use it to HELP people.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com/ Thomas L. McDonald

    I don’t really have anything to add to the original piece in response to all these comments, but I do want to emphasize the point made by “JW”: clothing is the least important, least desired thing you can give to charity. There’s a ton of it, it’s bulky and heavy, and much of it that comes in is useless as anything but rag.

    I’ve worked with several different ministries that serve the poor, most notably St. Vincent de Paul, and I can tell you the top five things we wanted were, as follows:

    1. Money

    2. Volunteers

    3. Food.

    4. Some more money would be nice.

    5. And, yeah, a little more money.

    Money is fungible. It does everything. It’s light. It solves the largest range of problems. A good ministry such as SVDP puts 100% of their cash right back to use paying rent and utilities and other things.

    At a local level, food donations are also good, but they can’t have to travel: that adds work and expense and becomes a losing venture.

    The next thing they need is you: your time, your sweat, and your willingness to be a human face for people in need.

    Clothes? Clothes are a hassle.Throwing clothes at people who are already clothed isn’t really helping them. It’s a lazy gesture to give yourself an easy illusion of “helping”. You don’t see naked (sane) homeless people because clothes are everywhere. Winter coats are the only real exception to this.

    So, those saying, “Well, at least he’s helping them!” Not really. Not that much. He was checking “charity” off his to-do list in the laziest possible way.

  • Pingback: Fitching the Homeless. | YoungNotions()

  • http://twitter.com/MoreModestThanU Chris Christakis

    Kate, I am sure that you have good intentions and are generally a good person, but you are demonstrating the problem with this (popular) opinion.

    “But the idea itself (and it’s effectiveness) is based on the bigotry of others. Do you genuinely believe this won’t diminish the brand?”

    This video is exploitative and reinforces negative perceptions of the homeless. Think about these two statements you make right next to each other. “Homeless = uncool/unattractive” is the bigotry we are talking about, and you are basically saying that it is true by acknowledging that this movement will diminish their brand. At best you are supporting the propagating of bigotry, at worst you are demonstrating your own bigotry.

    “Because they’re the only people who see homeless people as less.”

    …except for Greg Karber and anybody else who thinks this video was a good idea. The premise of the entire movement doesn’t make sense if they don’t think homeless people are less valuable/desirable as well. Whether you are just taking this position temporarily to beef with elitists, or if you believe it yourself, subconsciously or not, you are still doing harm to the perception of the homeless in America.

    “I don’t think his point is that the homeless are less as people, but that since Jeffries himself perceives them as less, this is a good way to piss him off…”

    Seriously, think to yourself. Which is more important to you: devaluing Abercrombie & Fitch’s brand, or devaluing the homeless? It’s not alright to humor bigots for the sake of making an unrelated argument.

    The problem I see in your comment and in many of the other comments is a core misunderstanding of the plight of the homeless. I don’t propose to be a saint or expert in this respect, but it’s clear I am less ignorant than many commenters I have read. The reason homeless people need clothing donations is because having dirty, damaged, or ill-fitting clothing is an indicator of homelessness. For the homeless to become re-assimilated within society, they have to be able to appear presentable at job interviews and traditional social settings. The importance is having the right clothing (fits, is appropriate for the setting) not just any clothing. That is what Greg Karber is missing in this video. He just gives them any clothes because giving clothes to homeless is good. WRONG. Giving the right clothes to people who actually want the clothes, and for the right reasons, is good. Seriously, try going to a job interview in one of those garish printed t-shirts. Assuming that the homeless will take whatever we give them because they need anything is another negative perception that this video reinforces.

    What the homeless people of America need more than anything else is our respect, our understanding, and our compassion, all things this video and movement are short on. One of my biggest critiques is that the video misses an opportunity to let these people in on the joke, rather than just using them as the butt of it. He doesn’t talk to them about what he is doing and why he is doing it. By only speaking to the audience about the homeless, and not to the homeless about this movement, he further dehumanizes the people he is “helping.”

    And finally, to your point about which is worse, Greg Karber exploiting the homeless, or the Evil Mike Jeffries shunning fat people, I offer you a non-answer; do I have to choose one? That’s the problem here, Mike Jeffries might be a dick, but getting back at him at the expense of a chronically misunderstood, devalued minority is far from a good deed.

  • rkarman

    I am a social worker on Skid Row and I too found this very distasteful, as did the homeless folks I work with. http://www.hitonbythehomeless.com

  • Jesse

    No! I will not give you this shirt, which could keep you warm in the cold times to come, because I can plainly see that you, fair homeless gentleman, have far too much dignity to accept it.

  • Pingback: Which Is Worse: Tone-Deaf Abercrombie or the Viral ‘Fitch the Homeless’ Response? « Tony Rocha Official Blog()

  • tedseeber

    Why not just donate it to a clothing bank, and let the homeless pick it out for themselves if it fits?

  • http://twitter.com/jaypsyd Jason Evan Mihalko

    It’s so sad seeing that so many have trouble seeing how wrong it is to use homeless people as props to symbolize unwanted people in in an attempt to punish a brand that states their are certain people that are unwanted.

    It’s so distressing to see many commenting about people–actual people–as if they are things. Let’s be honest: much of the pro-#fitchthehomeless reaction is self serving–it makes us feel better about ourselves–it’s not about helping people who actually need help. It’s not about seeing the “other” as one of us.




  • http://www.facebook.com/thejeanmax Jean-Maxime Fangous

    I appreciate that people might have “Philosophical” problems with his approach. I only wish that homeless people could have the luxury to think about how ethical the donation they receive are. Problem is that their preoccupations are too earth bond. What to eat? What to wear? This video is provocative, sure; good think is that it attract people’s attention on an issue that they don’t usually discuss or act on. Original motivation might sound wrong to you, but I believe that if everybody donate, the good that might come out of it is real.

  • Bruno

    You really missed the point inyour text, he didn’t mean that homelles are less than anybody, you can’t infer that from the video. He just gone the opposite way of the A&F CEO, and that was just amazing!!!