A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Abercrombie & Fitch Take Savile Row


I'm a big fan of Justin Fitzpatrick over at The Shoe Snob - as the name implies, his content usually is almost entirely shoe-centric, which is fine by me. He must have been especially disgusted by Abercrombie & Fitch's invasion of The Row, which apparently came complete with locust-like hordes of teen shoppers descending upon the fabled sartorial mecca, to take the time to post about the whole sordid affair (see his account here).

The story is even sadder when one considers the illustrious history of this once-proud purveyor of luxury men's sporting goods.

The company was originally founded in 1892 by David Abercrombie as a luxury sporting goods store (here in the States, I suppose Orvis would be A&F's modern-day successor). He later formed a partnership with Ezra Fitch, and, after Abercrombie left the company, Fitch became sole owner and ushered in the "Fitch Years" of continued success. Prominent figures who patronized the company in its early 20th century heyday included Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, John Steinbeck, John F. Kennedy, Ernest Shackleton, Cole Porter, and Dwight Eisenhower.

After Fitch's retirement, the company continued under a succession of other leaders until its financial collapse in 1977. The present incarnation came into being in 1988, when Limited Brands acquired the ailing company for $47 million after having success in popularizing Express and Victoria's Secret. Sadly, at that time, the sporting goods inventory was cleared out and the new president placed a stronger emphasis on apparel. Then Michael S. Jeffries took over as president in 1992 and popularized the brand as a teen apparel merchandiser.

All of which brings us to the aforementioned hordes of kiddies lining the sidewalks of the Row . . . and to the inevitable conclusion that, once again, us Yanks are to blame.

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