Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) is a clothing brand and has three sister brands; Abercrombie Kids, Hollister Co. and Gilly Hicks. The company was founded in 1892 and mainly sells casual clothing for young people between 18 and 22 years old.
Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in 1892 in Ohio. The original founders of the business were David T. Abercrombie and Ezra H. Fitch. Their intention was to sell sportswear for the wealthy. However, in the late 1960s, the company suffered financially. In 1988 it was therefore purchased by The Limited, a company that is also partly responsible for the well-known Victorias Secret. The Limited revived Abercrombie by turning it into a luxury casual wear company. Today, A&F has more than 300 stores around the world.
Luxury casual clothing
Abercrombie & Fitch is known for its luxurious casual clothing that is endorsed by models. By using excellent materials and the best leather and cashmere, A&F was given the opportunity to establish itself in high-end locations, often near stores a la Prada and Dior. The prices of Abercrombie clothing are therefore known as the most expensive among youth clothing. In Europe, A&F is even twice as expensive as in America.
Abercrombie’s American headquarters, also called The Home Office, is located in Ohio in New Albany. The European headquarters are in Milan, Italy.
The management staff is:
- Mike Jeffries: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
- Diane Chang: Executive Vice President of Sourcing.
- Leslee K. Herro: Executive Vice President of Planning and Allocation.
- Ronald A. Robins, Jr.: Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel.
- Jonathan Ramsden: Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
- Amy Zehrer: Senior Vice President of Stores.
The staff in Abercrombie stores consists of models. They are required to purchase Abercrombie & Fitch clothing and wear it during working hours to achieve the right look and complete the picture. Boys who work bare-chested would also receive a premium.
Abercrombie has 278 stores in America and four in Canada. In Europe, the stores are located in London, Dublin, Milan, Copenhagen, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Germany and Amsterdam. Three stores have also been opened in Asia.
- In 2002, Abercrombie sold thongs for children. The underwear had sayings such as ‘Eye Candy’ and ‘Wink Wink’ printed on it. After a huge outcry from parents, A&F removed this underwear line from its shelves. A shirt with the inscription ‘L is for Loser’, with an image of a gymnast on the rings, was also removed from the racks after a protest from sports clubs. Several shirts were later also removed from the racks due to discriminatory or sexist prints. (‘I had a nightmare I was a brunette’, ‘Female streaking encouraged’, ‘Female students wanted for sexual research’….)
- In 2004, Abercrombie & Fitch was accused of discrimination. They would only hire white women and men to work in their stores.
- In 2005, the company was sued again for discrimination. $40 million was demanded.
- In 2009, British student Dean won a lawsuit against A&F because she was only allowed to work in the warehouse (out of sight of customers) because of her prosthesis. She was born without a left arm, and her appearance would not meet Abercrombie’s standards. She was eventually awarded £8,000 for hurt feelings, loss of earnings and unfair dismissal.
- Later that year, the company was fined more than $115,000 after a teenage girl was not allowed to help her autistic sister in a fitting room. Abercrombie initially refused to respond to the complaints, but later announced that the girl was not really autistic.
- A&F was also sued in 2009 after a sixteen-year-old girl was filmed by an employee while she was in the locker room. The employee denied everything until the camera with the images in question turned up a few days later.
- In 2011, there was also a lot of criticism about the opening of the first Belgian Abercrombie store in Brussels. The staff must meet strict appearance standards and must be younger than 24 years old. The Center for Equal Opportunities and Combating Racism called A&F’s working method discriminatory.
- In 2013, co-owner Mike Jeffries made a bad impression by claiming that only beautiful and thin women should wear A&F clothing. According to him, that is also the reason why women’s clothing only goes up to size large.