Clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch has a kids section of their website, and a recent flurry of daggers has flown its way over a controversial blog post by someone else that erroneously linked the site’s overall age group with a bikini top that would be better (or more reasonably) actually marketed toward the older girls of that age group.
An article at Huffington Post’s Style section suggests (with video) that A&F is marketing the tops to those as young as 8. Another ABC broadcaster has a segment suggesting the range begins around 7 — neither of the stories have conclusive evidence that the items in question are actually marketed to that low of an age, but mine for opinions on the idea instead, and A&F is erroneously feeling the heat of that idea despite being at best ambiguous. So what people are getting angry over is A GUESS, not FACTS.
As for the headliner question: I’m going to say, “No, they didn’t,” for several reasons.
Firstly, the site itself does not list the age group of youth for which marketing actually aims, so a blogger wishing to stir up grief could conceivably arbitrarily suggest that the site markets to “6-year-olds” if they wanted — so the actual age range of kids the bikini top is actually marketed to is rather ambiguous.
Secondly, a site’s overall age range is listed according to a Wikipedia entry that describes the site, but does not specify the age range for specific products. To suggest that just because a teenager-style bikini top is found in the youth section, and is therefore marketed toward the youngest of that entire section’s age range, is plain and simple foolishness.
Try thinking of it the other way around. If a site markets underwear for children — is the site therefore marketing underwear designed for 7-year-old girls toward 14-year-old girls? No. That’s simply a product found on the site, from among all of the various other products offered to a wide range of kids.
Thirdly, a height range for wearers of this particular bikini top IS specified, and one blogger, a mother of a 5-year-old daughter, suggests that girls don’t even grow that tall until at least 11 or 12 — establishing a possible low end of the age range for that product. But even still, that is merely a height guideline and does not establish the actual age targeted.
Fourthly, many small, short, and petite women shop in the kids section for jeans that would not be found in their size in the typical adult womens’ departments. Sales figures (if any) for a swimsuit that would fit an adult woman of that height or physical stature do not indicate that they are being purchased for children.
Fourthly, a lot of the commentary about how bad it is seems to revolve specifically around anecdotal experiences that are unrelated to A&F, and are just adding fuel to the ire in, frankly, an immature fashion.