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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.

Supré's Wifey T-Shirt

Supré’s Wifey T-Shirt

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.

 

8 thoughts on “you’re my wifey: the A&F effect

  1. I saw this on a XXXS mannequin out the front of my local Supre, a couple of days ago. I couldn’t believe it. It’s revolting for girls of any age, but it’s such a dangerous message for young girls, who are in the process of defining their self-worth and who will no doubt be entering into their first relationships.

  2. Thanks for this article! I was horrified the first time I saw the window display at my nearest Supre. Sure, I don’t shop there but the message it was promoting just made me cringe every time I saw it. Why do any designers of any brand of clothing think that this is acceptable. Very, very sad!

  3. The “Wifey” t-shirt is a copy of one model Cara Delevigne had made referencing her close friendship with singer Rita Ora. They refer to each other as “wifey” over Twitter, and the shirt was just a way of publicly acknowledging their friendship. Pop culture, nothing to do with being wife to a man.

  4. Hi, I am 14 years old and me and my bestie Lucy were shopping last weekend and saw these shirts at Supre. We both ran in and each bought one. We love them and we’re besties. We had a party on Saturday night and both wore it, all our friends were jealous haha! I don’t think anyone my age thinks about this being a top my dad would give to my mum, gross! It’s about best friends for life. I don’t think you have any idea what you’re talking about, just chillax. Olivia xx

  5. I like it and I’m currently engaged Abd have a daughter it tells ppl that I’m taken And I am a wifey In a stay at home mum and I do all my wifely duties lol and I agree with Olivia too

  6. Olivia will (hopefully) see the other side once she actually grows up.
    True, the piece heightens things which may not necessarily be true nor relevant, however the fact that Supre (and many other stores) know the age group that buys their clothes yet insist on smaller-than-average mannequins and ridiculous clothes is outrageous.

    I shop at Supre on the rare occasion that I can find something in my size which actually looks good, and covers all my bits and pieces. I’m not a big girl, nor am I a tiny girl, but lets face it, Supre’s style and image caters for those who are of a more ‘Victoria’s Secret’ body shape, shall we say.

    To top things off, girls as young as 10 and 11 shop there and buy clothes which some self respecting 18 year olds wouldn’t even wear.

    Olivia, if you actually read what was written, you would know that the author said nothing about it being something akin to what a husband would give his wife nor does it respresent best friends (seriously, how do you get ‘best friends’ from ‘wifey’?), and frankly if you had any independent thought then you’d realise that Supre’s clothes actually suck, they only seem to be ‘in’ because a bunch of children like yourself wear them in mass hordes to create some ridiculous fad within your own group of friends.

  7. BRIE: The world is full of all kinds of bodies with various shapes and sizes. Just because there happens to be very small sizes at Supre doesn’t mean it’s an insult on YOU. It’s not even about you. The brand is about women, and some of its buyers happen to be little people. And, just to make it clear, just because someone fits into a size XXXS ‘Wifey’ T-shirt doesn’t make them a naive super skank.

    For example: I affectionately call my best friend ‘Wifey’. (As in love of my life, soul mate, best friend, someone I would spend the rest of my life adoring) The word is completely innocent. It’s a warm hearted spin on the word ‘Wife’. Even if an obnoxious male minority use the word in such a way that is degrading how does it even directly affect us? It doesn’t.
    You can still be self respecting female and wear my ‘Wifey’ t-shit.

    Also, a note to the author: You mentioned women are degraded by the blatant over use of skinny models in catalogues. What about the naturally thin women who read your articles? What about their side of the story? The fact that naturally skinny women are constantly scrutinized by their weight/eating habits. I don’t get why its socially expectable for people to say to a skinny girl ‘Oh you are so tiny – you need to eat more’ but we can’t say to a fat person ‘Oh you’re so fat – maybe you should eat less.’ You make out like big girls are the only ones who are oppressed. Try going jeans shopping when you’re a size 6 and all your friends are curvy size 14’s (the average size of women today).

    Your article is one sided and on occasion, a total cop out to all women.

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