Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the leading clothing companies in the world. They manufacture
and sell apparel that target the 18-24 year old demographic who represent the “All-American
Look.” Many people argue about the definition of what is “All-American,” since the United
States continues to evolve and include many different cultures and races. Abercrombie & Fitch
has been successful for over 100 years, but recently has come under constant scrutiny about its
Abercrombie & Co. was founded by David Abercrombie on June 4, 1892. In 1900, Ezra Fitch
joined the company and it then became known as Abercrombie & Fitch. Since the very
beginning, the two did not see eye to eye on the direction that they wanted to take the company.
Abercrombie wanted to sell outdoors gear and apparel, while Fitch wanted to sell more
mainstream clothing. After years of feuding, Abercrombie left the company in 1907.
Despite his departure, the company continued to grow without Abercrombie. Fitch still kept the
outdoor feel of the company – a campfire was burning in one corner of the store. He also sold
hunting, fishing, and camping gear, but also sold clothing for the average person.
In 1909, Abercrombie & Fitch started a mail-order catalog. The 456 page catalog was mailed out
to 50,000 customers, and included many of the same items that were sold in the store. In addition
to merchandise, the catalog included articles and advice columns. Although the cost of the
catalog almost caused the company to claim bankruptcy, it was an effective marketing tool and
increased their sales.
The company kept expanding and opening up stores in a few different locations. A flagship store
was opened in 1917 on Madison Avenue in New York. At the time, this was their largest store.
In the basement there was a shooting range, on the mezzanine there were items for skiing,
archery, and lawn games. The second through the fifth floors were reserved for clothing that was
suitable for any climate or terrain. On the sixth floor, there was a picture gallery and a bookstore
that was mainly about sporting themes, a watch repair area and a golf school. There was a
professional on hand to assist customers with any questions that they had about a particular sport.
The seventh floor included a gun room, stuffed game heads, and several hundred shot guns and
rifles. The eighth floor was all about fishing, camping, and boating.
Ezra Fitch retired from the company in 1929. Even with his departure and under new ownership,
Abercrombie & Fitch continued to expand. Abercrombie & Fitch began opening stores in
shopping malls across the country. These included malls in Chicago, San Francisco, and New
Jersey. Although sales remained constant for several years, in the 1960s they saw a decline. In
1977, Abercrombie & Fitch claimed bankruptcy. This coincidentally occurred the same year that
modern competitor American Eagle began their business.
Even though they were suffering financially, Abercrombie & Fitch continued to operate for the
next several years. In 1988, clothing giant The Limited Inc. acquired the distressed company.
They re-launched Abercrombie & Fitch with a new look and sales strategy.
In 1998, abercrombie kids opened. This store targeted young kids. In 2000, Hollister Co. opened
its doors. This brand targeted younger high school students ages 14-18. Prices at Hollister were
also about 30% less than at Abercrombie & Fitch. Most recently, in 2004, a fourth brand called
Rhuel No. 925 was launched to target the older, post college graduate audience ages 24 and up.
Prices at Rhuel No. 925 were significantly higher than those at Abercrombie & Fitch.
In recent years, Abercrombie & Fitch has faced several controversial lawsuits and