The rise and fall — and rise again — of Abercrombie & Fitch

FILE PHOTO: An Abercrombie & Fitch storefront sign states

Founded as a store for outdoor gear, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. pivoted into fashion apparel during the 1900s.
Under CEO Mike Jeffries, the brand was modernized and became popular with teens in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Controversies and lawsuits soured public opinion, and the company’s sales declined.
In recent years, the company has rebranded itself and has seen its sales turn around.
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Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has seen many evolutions over its history, starting as an outdoors and hunting store before transforming into the cultural clothing mecca for teens in the 1990s and early 2000s. Changing public interest as well as controversy and lawsuits in the 2000s and 2010s turned customers away from the once popular clothing line. But it has attempted a comeback in recent years with a more mature and conscientious re-imaging, and in turn, it has seen sales increase again.

Here’s how the company rose to fame, almost lost it all, and is now poised for a comeback.

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Abercrombie Co. was founded in 1892 as an outdoor retailer that sold fishing and hunting gear.

Founded by David T. Abercrombie, the store sold outdoors equipment in New York City. Ezra Fitch, a lawyer, purchased a large share of the company and was named co-founder in 1904, and the company became Abercrombie & Fitch.

By 1910, David Abercrombie had left, and the company had opened a large department store.

The 12-story department store on Madison Avenue sold both men’s and women’s clothing, in addition to having a shooting range and golf school. Abercrombie & Fitch also started a mail-order catalog, mailing out 50,000 copies to consumers.

According to Funding Universe, the company made record $6.3 million in sales in 1929.

After surviving the Great Depression, the company continued to grow, expanded to new states, and served some famous clients.

Sales reportedly fell to $2.59 million in 1933, when the company lost $521,118, in addition to a loss of $241,211 the previous year. But sales prospered again by 1947 (when they made $682,894 in net profit), and in the 1950s they had expanded to Florida and California.

The company had some famous patrons like Ernest Hemingway and Theodore Roosevelt and outfitted Charles Lindbergh’s transAtlantic flight in 1927.

Pictured, John F. Kennedy wears Abercrombie & Fitch chinos.

But the company’s sales slumped in the 1960s, and it filed for bankruptcy in 1977.

In 1960, while net sales rose, net profits reportedly fell for a fourth straight year, according to Funding Universe. In 1976, the company reported a loss of $1 million. During this time, the company failed to take advantage of new mediums like television.

According to its website, Abercrombie & Fitch was acquired in 1978 by Oshman’s Sporting Goods. In 1988, it was acquired by Limited Brands, which refocused the company on apparel.

They also moved the headquarters from New York to Ohio.

In the 1990s, Mike Jeffries became CEO and focused on connecting with the day’s youth.

After working …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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