Kids, We’re Not Going to Shop At Hollister

Hollister store

Hollister store, Image Credit: crazytales562


My kids are still too young to shop at Hollister or its ugly step-sisters, Abercrombie and Fitch. But with Big Brother starting to comb his hair each morning and actually starting to have an opinion about what he wears, it’s not too soon to start thinking about how to teach my boys to be smart consumers. The recent faux-pas by this clothing chain involves some male models at a Hollister store opening in Korea, tweeting photos of themselves making “squinty eyes” and the peace sign so popular with Asian youth.

My problems with this company are numerous: the cologne fumes that waft out of every store, the overly suggestive photos, and the need to stamp their brand name across their clothes. Of course, every teenager in America (not to mention Asia) wants to wear them. Hollister’s parent company, Abercombie and Fitch has sold tees with ancient Chinese stereotypes, and has been sued for firing a Muslim employee for wearing a headscarf and for discriminatory hiring practices against blacks, Latinos and Asians. And just in case we needed any other reasons not to plunk down our hard earned cash at this retailer, I have to think about who it really benefits if we buy their clothes.

It reminds me of a time in my own life, say middle school, when ESPRIT sweatshirts were all the rage. All the cool kids had them. All my friends had them. Therefore, I had to have one. After much begging, my parents agreed to take me to the ESPRIT outlet in San Francisco’s warehouse district, where we queued up around the block for a chance to rummage through tables full of pedal pushers and crop tops. When we finally pushed our way to the front, grabbed armloads of clothes, and it was time to make a final decision, my dad laid down one ground rule. “No shirts with brand names written on them,” he insisted. “They should be paying you to advertise for them.”

I whined and pouted, but to no avail. Instead, I came home with a candy-cane striped miniskirt and a solid red polo shirt. While that outfit has long been sent to the Salvation Army, the lesson sticks with me to this day.


They should be paying you to advertise for them.


Those of you who know me in person have probably never seen me in a logo t-shirt. Even my kids, when they were little said, “Mommy, you wear boring shirts.” It takes a lot for me to slap words across my chest, but I will occasionally don a tee advertising my kids’ school or an event I took part in. And if I’m ever to wear a shirt with a brand name on it, you’d better be sure that is a company whose ethics I stand by, not some poseur surf shop with a history of anti-Asian slurs. My children have been known to wear a rag tag collection of free shirts from day camps and other activities, but middle school is right around the corner.

I know how good it feels to wear clothes that make you feel cool. I also know how powerful it feels to go against the flow, to vote with your wallet, and to make a stand. When the time comes, I just hope  that I’ll also be able to teach them how to let their actions — and not their t-shirts — do the talking.




  1. says

    We don’t have a Hollister nearby, but I have to agree that the Abercrombie and Fitch store bugs me. I have to take a deep breath and hold it while bracing myself when I open their doors to the really loud music and the very strong stench of perfume. Unfortunately, cutting through that store is the quickest route to Talbots, where I do my boring petite clothes shopping. Haha!

  2. says

    I love reading your blog. Such a treat in my inbox, whether it’s food or ideas or whatsoever you decide to write. I saw the story about the disgusting racist taunting jerk-behavior by Hollister’s people in Korea, on Yahoo News. I am glad you put this out there. Didn’t know they were Abercrombie, which I already avoided for years because of sexualized ads aimed at young folks and horrible behavior toward employees who are people of color. We didn’t buy anything with a logo (even a gratuitous saying if were positioned across the behind of the wearer) for the same reason — “You aren’t an ad!” They’re now 17 and 21 and they seem to have survived just fine without billboarding for the merchant world.

  3. Elisa says

    I love the values you are teaching your children, although I remember being devastated during my adolescent that my parents didn’t buy me designer jeans — At the time the question, “Why would you want someone else’s name written on your ass?” seemed old and fuddy-duddy to me. Now, I am grateful for my parents.

  4. says

    I’m so proud of this blog post, not only because you raise-up some of A&F bad practices in both hiring and advertising but because you bring-up an even bigger and more important point — they SHOULD pay you to advertise for them! I hadn’t even thought of that. I’m going to remember that from now. I think it’ll be challenging to teach your boys the value of clothes, but as with all things parenting, nothing is easy, but it has to be done. I hope one day they will remember your words, just as you remember your father’s! Oh, and I’ve never shopped at A&F or Hollister. Though, my 2YO loves to dance in front of their store. Why do they play such loud music anyways.

  5. says

    I remember as a teenager hating Hollister so much, because I couldn’t fit into anything they offered, their largest waist size being 30″. I had a 34″ inch waist in high school and inherited my German side’s big butt and boobs, so therefore I was unable to be “cool” even if I wanted to, and it was always awkward shopping with my girlfriends who always asked why I hadn’t found anything I liked.

    I remember this really affecting my self esteem as a kid and thinking I was an absolute heifer being a size 12. Now, I wish I could tell my 16 year old self that Hollister isn’t worth it, and would kill to have those curves again!

    • says

      What a reminder that being a teenager is difficult for most everyone. As a skinny, flat-chested Asian girl, I wished I had the butt and boobs. And like you, I had no idea how awesome I looked back then until I was much older.

  6. says

    You are a smart, smart cookie. We don’t wear … many … logo tees/shirts. There are a few, but they mostly fall in the gift-given, don’t turn down free clothes type.

  7. says

    So in line with my attempts to be intentional in every area of my life… thinking about the message my choices send.

    WOW – so well written – thank you for posting this. I agree 100% with you… and kudos, because your kids are learning it too!

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