you’re my wifey: the A&F effect
‘Hey,’ said my friend. We were thirteen and had managed to pull a little pocket money together to go shopping. ‘Did you know that Supré means ‘slut’ in French?’
It’s a rumour – albeit, a falsified one at that – that many tweens hear about the female clothing retail giant Supré, who claim to embody ‘everything fun’. Supré once sold dress-casual and office wear for women in their late teens to early thirties along with a line specifically for curvier woman. Now notorious for their super-skimpy clothing and obnoxiously loud music, it’s clear that the Supré we see today has been creating and endorsing some fashions that are anything but fun.
Despite the 20-something women who model the store’s clothing on the pages of their catalogues or across posters, it’s evident that Supré’s customer demographic has shifted down to the tender age range of 10-15 years old. Supré’s sizes begin at 3XS. Not a “4” but an excruciatingly blatant, extra, extra, extra small. Furthermore, their clothes are perfectly suited to the tween budget – nothing over $50. Their stereos blast the latest radio hits at deafening levels, clearly targeting the modern tween – and their purses.
The Supré’s Autumn-Winter 2013 line includes the must-haves such as the suddenly-really-popular onesie, extra-extra-extra skinny jeans and a shirt that bears the word, in bold print, ‘WIFEY’. The shirt is described as ‘simple yet stylish’, but Supré forgot to add the ‘oppressive and ignorant’ part before saying that it’ll fluff up so nice for winter.
For those who don’t know, ‘Wifey’ is a term used by those swag boys and #YOLO girls. It’s what you call a girl who you could marry, she ain’t no hoe or bitch – but your true boo. She’s ‘different’ from those other bitches, you know? It’s nice to see a man labelling a woman for their intended purpose: possession. And it’s about time a girl’s value was defined by a man then emblazoned on her clothing. I mean if he doesn’t call you his wifey, then you know he just doesn’t respect you.
Recently, Abercrombie and Fitch introduced a t-shirt line the held the slogan, ‘# more boyfriends than t.s.’ where ‘t.s’ stood for Taylor Swift, the tween pop sensation. The ever-loyal ‘Swifties’ lashed out at what they called an ‘offensive garment’ and with 87 signatures on an online petition and a few phone calls to A&F HQ they managed to get the company to pull the shirts from the rack. Taylor Swift has made no comment regarding her opinion on the matter, nor made any statement regarding the garment. Obviously she’s still busy designing hell for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but Abercrombie and Fitch will probably get their ticket in the mail or something.
But so begs the question, if 87 butt hurt fans can make a multi-billion dollar corporation pull a garment from the shelves within a few business days, why don’t we kick up a stink about products carrying objectifying slogans being marketed directly to young girls?
Supré are known for promoting and selling tiny garments: their mannequins are size 4’s, 6’s, and 8’s. Their Facebook profile is riddled with references to tween sensation like One Direction and Justin Beiber. Supré know who’s buying their clothes. Yet despite appearing to be acutely aware of their target market, when faced with backlash over any of their garments Supré often claims ignorance.
From the same line as ‘wifey’ came a shirt printed with the line ‘You Can’t Sit with Us’ from the cult-classic film, Mean Girls. The shirt was unceremoniously dumped from stores when public outcry linked it to bullying. ‘You Can’t Sit with Us’ is the phrase used to oust the former Queen Bee, Regina, from the ‘popular group’ in the film. Yet Supré still believed they had done nothing wrong because the print ‘would have been recognised as a reference to this movie’ instead of suggesting bullying. Poor Supré felt like the victim here because it is, ‘… a big quote in the Fashion world and can be seen across a lot of brands, not just SUPRÉ’ the brand claimed on Thursday, in a statement released on their official Facebook page. Just because other people do it, doesn’t mean you should, Supré.
With a hoard of loyal tweeny-bop followers, one would hope that Supré would use their influence over this insecure age group to promote positive female body image. Sadly, there are no plus-sized or curvy models used online or in-store, despite Supré stocking sizes up to extra-large. Still, for body-conscious young girls ‘Extra-large’ does not carry the best connotations. The company state on their website that different women have different sizes and shapes and so sizing is not accurate, but where are these ‘different’ female bodies? Women who would fit Supré’s extra-large clothes are certainly not represented in their catalogues or posters. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimised?
The ‘wifey’ shirt remains in stores. It still promotes objectification to young girls, and the brands increasingly small clothes mean Supré’s designs are being brought to increasingly young girls. These tweens will soon grow into young women who think that being objectified by men is okay, young women who present themselves as property and accept that they can be ‘owned’ by a man. A serious consideration needs to be spared for the designers who thought that promoting such an idea through young girl’s clothing is acceptable. Did they ever stop to think, ‘what are we saying with this t-shirt? Should that idea be promoted and marketed to young girls?’
Wifey comes in a variety of different colours in shirt, hoodie and wife-beater (although Supré call it a ‘sleeveless top’). You can buy your very own Wifey from any Supré across the nation.