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

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


Abercrombie & Fitch.


  • Established as a shop for outside equipment, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. pivoted into style garments throughout the 1900 s.
  • Under CEO Mike Jeffries, the brand name was improved and became popular with teens in the 1990 s and early 2000 s.
  • Debates and lawsuits soured popular opinion, and the company’s sales decreased.
  • In recent years, the company has rebranded itself and has actually seen its sales turn around.
  • Visit Company Insider’s homepage for more stories

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has actually seen lots of developments over its history, beginning as an outdoors and hunting store prior to changing into the cultural clothes capital for teens in the 1990 s and early 2000 s. Changing public interest along with controversy and claims in the 2000 s and 2010 s turned customers far from the when popular clothing line. However it has attempted a resurgence in current years with a more mature and diligent re-imaging, and in turn, it has actually seen sales boost again.

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

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

Abercrombie & Fitch.

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury.

Established by David T. Abercrombie, the store sold outdoors equipment in New york city City. Ezra Fitch, a legal representative, purchased a large share of the business and was named co-founder in 1904, and the company ended up being Abercrombie & Fitch.

By 1910, David Abercrombie had left, and the business had opened a big department shop.

New York City in the 1940 s.

YouTube/ GeriatricFellow.

The 12- story department store on Madison Avenue sold both guys’s and females’s clothing, in addition to having a shooting range and golf school. Abercrombie & Fitch likewise started a mail-order brochure, sending by mail out 50,000 copies to customers.

According to Funding Universe, the business made record $6.3 million in sales in1929

After enduring the Great Anxiety, the company continued to grow, expanded to brand-new states, and served some popular customers.

John F. Kennedy wearing A&F chinos.

Courtesy Abercrombie & Fitch.

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

The business had some popular customers like Ernest Hemingway and Theodore Roosevelt and equipped Charles Lindbergh’s transAtlantic flight in 1927.

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

But the company’s sales plunged in the 1960 s, and it declared bankruptcy in 1977.

Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

In 1960, while net sales increased, net earnings reportedly fell for a 4th straight year, according to Financing Universe. In 1976, the business reported a loss of $1 million. During this time, the business stopped working to make the most of new mediums like tv.

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

They likewise moved the head office from New York to Ohio.

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

Mike Jeffries, left.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

After working for ladies’s clothes line Paul Harris, Jeffries(imagined left) took over as CEO of the business from Sally Frame-Kasaks in1992 He turned his attention to cornering the teenager retail market, making it the A&F brand’s objective declaration.

To capture consumers’ attention, Jeffries created advertising campaign with provocative images and hardly outfitted models.

Abercrombie & Fitch ad.


Professional Photographer Bruce Weber was worked with to take the racy images in a bid to rebrand A&F into a discussion piece.

In the early 2000 s, the seller was taken legal action against for discrimination and received backlash for an offensive item line.

Abercrombie designs.

@Abercrombie/ Twitter.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, in 2002, the brand name got public reaction from Asian Americans for images on Tee shirts that illustrated Asian stereotypes. According to Bloomberg, in reaction, the company eliminated the items from their shelves.

A year later, a class-action fit was filed versus the company for supposed discrimination versus African Americans, Asian Americans, and other minority applicants. It was reported that A&F supervisors were ordered to reject that a store was employing if applicants didn’t fit a specific appearance.

The company settled the lawsuit in 2004 without confessing any wrongdoing, according to Bloomberg. It paid $40 million and changed its hiring guidelines.

In 2012, the company was sued once again. In the lawsuit, a pilot declared Jeffries had some odd ask for staff aboard his personal jet.

Gulfstream G550

Benjamin Zhang/Business Expert.

In a separate case, a previous pilot, Michael Bustin, sued for age discrimination against the business, as reported by Service Insider‘s Ashley Lutz. He claimed Jeffries bought the flight team and designs to adhere to “Airplane Standards” when flying on his personal jet. These consisted of needing male designs to wear Abercrombie polo t-shirts, shoes, and underwear. They also needed to wear black gloves when dealing with flatware and white gloves when setting the table.

According to Bloomberg, in 2012, the company settled the case with the pilot, without admitting misdeed.

The brand was also criticized for at first excluding plus-sized clothes.

A&F model.

Liora K Photography.

As reported by Company Expert, comments Jeffries made in 2006 relating to sexual magnetism resurfaced, drawing widespread criticism from people and stars like Ellen DeGeneres and Kirstie Alley. “That’s why we hire attractive individuals in our shops,” he had said. “Because attractive people attract other good-looking people, and we desire to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone aside from that.”

Jeffries provided a semi-apology in a 2013 Facebook post, composing, “While I believe this 7 years of age, resurrected quote has actually been secured of context, I truly regret that my option of words was interpreted in a way that has caused offense.”

That exact same year, the brand name lastly began to use larger sizes

Its sales started to fall in the late 2000 s as public interest waned.

Abercrombie & Fitch T shirts.

Service Insider/Mary Hanbury.

As reported by Business Insider‘s Hayley Peterson, equivalent store sales were in decline for 11 financial quarters.

The business saw a decrease in total company compensation sales in 2008 and 2009, reducing by 13%and 23%, respectively. Overall company compensation sales then increased in 2010 and 2011 by 7%and 5%, but dropped once again in 2012 and 2013 by 1%and 11%, respectively.

2 subsidiary brand names, Ruehl 248 and Gilly Hicks, were also released but closed in 2009 and 2014, respectively. Also in the 2013 , 15 A&F adult mall stores closed.

The slow sales were due in part to the company’s controversies, but likewise due to changing interests among the more youthful demographic. Teenagers chose for less expensive brand names like Permanently 21, and Nike took control of as the youth’s go-to brand name. According to Business Insider, the variety of teens going to shopping centers had visited 30%in 2014 compared to the early 2000 s.

In 2014, Jeffries retired from his role as CEO.

Mike Jeffries.

AP Images.

” It has actually been an honor to lead this extraordinarily gifted group of individuals,” Jeffries said in a statement. “I believe now is the best time for brand-new leadership to take the business forward in the next stage of its development.”

A committee formed by three senior executives and the Abercrombie & Fitch Co. board chairman Arthur Martinez handled the business up until a follower might be chosen.

After Jeffries left, the company’s sales fell 14%in the first part of 2015, but Martinez was enthusiastic changes they had actually made would see better sales, according to Service Insider

As sales continued to fall, Abercrombie & Fitch had a hard time to rebrand.

A&F clothes.

Organisation Insider/Jessica Tyler.

The business chose to phase out big logo designs, changing them with smaller, more subtle logos. Leftover garments with big logos was offered on clearance.

In 2015, A&F got rid of its shirtless male greeters and revamped its look policies for sales clerks.

A&F designs.

Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images.

The shirtless male greeters had been a staple of the shop under Jeffries. Likewise gone were the dimly lit stores with loud music, replaced with brighter facilities that seemed like shops. There would still be some rules regarding what clerks might and couldn’t use, such as “no extreme comprise or precious jewelry.”

In 2015, the brand launched a brand-new line that turned its focus to older customers.

A&F models.

Abercrombie & Fitch.

According to Company Insider, the line provided a more mature, less preppy look than it had in the past. They were targeting consumers in between 18 to 25 instead of young teenagers as they had in the past.

The advertising campaign were also much tamer than they had actually remained in the past.

In the 2010 s, the company induced brand-new talent to aid with a rebrand.

Fran Horowitz, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

In 2017, Fran Horowitz (imagined above) took over as CEO of the business Horowitz had actually joined the company in 2014 from Ann Taylor Loft. She worked as brand name president of Hollister and held the role of president and chief merchandising officer for A&F.

With a brand-new focus and some downsizing, sales began to enhance.

Clothes in A&F shops.

Company Insider/Jessica Tyler.

The business closed unprofitable locations while buying stores that worked. They also focused style and marketing for their brand-new group. Between 2010 and the 2018 fiscal year, the company closed 450 stores and renovated others in an effort to reconnect with consumers. The business reported its fifth consecutive quarter of positive similar sales, with development across its brands.

In 2018, with enhanced sales, the brand was prepared for a resurgence.

Abercrombie & Fitch store on Fifth Opportunity in Manhattan.


Service Insider called the brand the most significant retail comeback of 2018, looking at both the company’s sales and rebrand. Clients also had a more favorable overall impression of the business, according to data YouGov.

Also in 2018, the company was ranked first for gender variety out of the 55 Fortune 1000 companies in Ohio by the National Diversity Council, with the highest portion of females in corporate governance roles.

In 2019, the A&F brand name was ranked third on Gartner’s Leading 10 Specialized Retail Brands in Digital

In 2019, the restructuring continued as the company closed 40 A&F shops while planning to open at 40 new areas.

A&F T-shirt.

Company Insider/Jessica Tyler.

The company decided to close 40 shops but likewise prepared to broaden and open at 40 brand-new areas with a focus on smaller sized spaces.

Stocks surged in 2020 after better-than-expected holiday sales in 2019.

Abercrombie & Fitch shop.

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury.

So far, the modifications appear to be settling. In 2018 and 2019, the business received over $1 billion in digital sales.

For Black Friday week in 2019, the business reported record numbers. According to the business, Hollister set a new sales record and the A&F brand name had its strongest earnings numbers in over five years.

At this moment, the company has shops in 850 areas throughout all brands.

But the spread of coronavirus plunged the retail sector into uncertainty in 2020, and like many other merchants, Abercrombie & Fitch temporarily closed its stores.

Abercrombie & Fitch.

Business Insider/Mary Hanbury.

Like many merchants, Abercrombie selected to close the doors to places across the country in a quote to help stop the spread of the infection.

” The choice to close all our shops outside of the [Asia-Pacific] area has actually been finished with a focus on the wellbeing of our partners, our clients, our partners, and our communities, and it is in keeping with our commitment to being an accountable business person,” Horowitz stated in a news release

How this will impact their comeback, or the future of the retail industry, stays to be seen.



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Abercrombie & Fitch
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