What Happened to Abercrombie & Fitch?

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Written By Angelo Sorbello

Tech entrepreneur and passionate about business



Once a fashion powerhouse synonymous with youth and allure, Abercrombie & Fitch now faces a crossroads in the ever-changing retail landscape.

From its controversial advertising to allegations of discrimination, the brand's reputation has taken a hit.

As consumer preferences shift towards affordability and inclusivity, Abercrombie & Fitch has struggled to adapt.

However, with a new CEO at the helm and a push towards e-commerce, can this iconic American retailer reclaim its former glory?

This article explores the rise, fall, and potential resurgence of Abercrombie & Fitch.

Key Takeaways

  • Abercrombie & Fitch lost relevance and faced intense competition
  • Controversies damaged the company's reputation
  • New CEO initiated a brand overhaul and closed stores
  • Strong online sales in target demographic

Founding and Early Success

The founding and early success of Abercrombie & Fitch can be traced back to its establishment in 1892 by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch. The brand initially gained popularity for its outdoor and sporting goods, catering to an elite clientele.

However, it wasn't until the 1990s that Abercrombie & Fitch experienced a surge in success under the leadership of CEO Mike Jeffries. Jeffries transformed the brand into a symbol of youthful luxury and exclusivity, targeting the teenage demographic with provocative advertising and celebrity endorsements.

This strategy proved highly successful, as Abercrombie & Fitch became synonymous with American youth culture.

The brand's early popularity laid the foundation for its subsequent growth and dominance in the retail industry.

Controversies and Negative Stereotyping

Amidst its early success, Abercrombie & Fitch faced controversies and accusations of negative stereotyping. The company's advertising campaigns and culture were criticized for being overtly sexual and exclusive. In 2002, Abercrombie & Fitch was accused of negatively stereotyping Asian people, which further damaged its public perception. In 2003, the company faced a class action lawsuit for discriminatory hiring practices. These controversies had a significant impact on sales and the company's reputation. To address these issues, Abercrombie & Fitch hired a new CEO in 2017 and embarked on a brand overhaul. The company toned down its controversial image and closed numerous stores. Despite the challenges, Abercrombie & Fitch has seen strong online sales in its target demographic. The company's journey highlights the importance of public perception and the need for companies to adapt to changing consumer trends.

Controversies and Negative Stereotyping
Impact on Sales
Public Perception

Decline in Teen Market Influence

Following the controversies and negative stereotyping, Abercrombie & Fitch experienced a decline in their influence in the teen market. The company's marketing strategies were heavily impacted as teens sought cheaper clothing with less branding and a focus on faster fashion and current trends. Additionally, the competition in the teen market intensified, with other brands offering more inclusive and socially responsible options.

Millennials, a key demographic for Abercrombie & Fitch, shifted their spending towards electronics and dining out, further diminishing the brand's appeal. In response, the company hired a new CEO and targeted an older demographic of 18 to 24 years. They toned down their controversial image and advertising, closed several stores, and focused on strengthening their online sales in the target demographic.

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Despite the decline in teen market influence, Abercrombie & Fitch remains well-positioned to benefit from the rise of e-commerce.

Shifting Consumer Trends

Consumer trends have undergone significant shifts, impacting the trajectory of Abercrombie & Fitch. The rise of fast fashion has changed the way consumers approach clothing purchases, favoring affordability and trendiness over brand loyalty.

Millennial spending patterns have also played a role, with this demographic shifting their expenditures towards electronics and dining out, rather than clothing.

As a result, Abercrombie & Fitch, known for its higher-priced and branded clothing, lost relevance in the teen market. To adapt, the company hired a new CEO and targeted an older demographic of 18 to 24 years.

They toned down their controversial image and advertising, closed numerous stores, and focused on strengthening their online presence. These strategic changes positioned Abercrombie & Fitch to benefit from the rise of e-commerce and cater to the evolving consumer preferences.

New Leadership and Brand Overhaul

After facing declining relevance and intense competition, Abercrombie & Fitch underwent a new leadership and brand overhaul to revive its image and adapt to changing consumer preferences.

In 2017, the company hired new CEO Fran Horowitz, who implemented a new leadership strategy focused on transforming the brand. One of the key aspects of this strategy was toning down the controversial image and advertising that Abercrombie & Fitch had become known for.

The company also made the decision to close 450 stores, with plans for more closures, as part of its brand transformation.

Despite the challenges, Abercrombie & Fitch has seen strong online sales in its target demographic of 18 to 24-year-olds, indicating that the brand overhaul has been successful in resonating with its desired audience.

Store Closures and Focus on Online Sales

As part of its brand transformation, Abercrombie & Fitch strategically closed 450 stores and shifted its focus towards online sales. This decision was driven by several factors, including changing consumer preferences and the rise of e-commerce.

Here are two key points to consider:

  1. Store closures:
  • Abercrombie & Fitch closed 450 stores as part of its efforts to streamline operations and cut costs.
  • This move was necessary to adapt to the changing retail landscape, where brick-and-mortar stores were facing challenges due to increased online shopping.
  1. Online focus:
  • Recognizing the growing importance of e-commerce, Abercrombie & Fitch directed its resources towards expanding its online presence.
  • The company invested in improving its website and mobile app, offering a seamless and convenient shopping experience for its target demographic.

Impact of Controversies on Reputation

The controversies surrounding Abercrombie & Fitch have had a significant impact on the company's reputation. These controversies, including accusations of discriminatory hiring practices, negative stereotyping, and inappropriate conduct, have tarnished the brand's image and affected its customer loyalty.

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As a result, Abercrombie & Fitch has experienced a decline in sales and struggled to maintain its once-dominant position in the teen market. In response, the company has made efforts to tone down its controversial image and appeal to a wider demographic.

However, the damage to its reputation has already been done, and it will take time for Abercrombie & Fitch to regain the trust and loyalty of its customers. The impact of these controversies serves as a cautionary tale for companies, highlighting the importance of maintaining a positive reputation and addressing any issues promptly to prevent long-term damage to sales and customer loyalty.

Positioning for E-commerce Growth

Abercrombie & Fitch strategically positioned itself to capitalize on the growth of e-commerce. To achieve this, the company implemented effective e-commerce strategies and online marketing techniques. Here are some key aspects of their positioning:

  • Enhanced online presence:
  • Invested in a user-friendly website with seamless navigation and a visually appealing layout.
  • Optimized their website for mobile devices to cater to the increasing number of consumers shopping on smartphones and tablets.
  • Personalization and engagement:
  • Utilized data analytics to understand customer preferences and deliver personalized recommendations.
  • Implemented interactive features such as live chat support and virtual styling sessions to enhance customer engagement.

What Happened to Musical.ly/TikTok

After successfully positioning itself for e-commerce growth, Abercrombie & Fitch now turns its attention to the subtopic of 'What Happened to Musical.ly/TikTok', a popular social media app that experienced significant changes and transformations.

In November, TikTok's parent company ByteDance acquired Musical.ly and merged it into TikTok in June 2018. This move allowed ByteDance to leverage AI technology and expand its reach in the Chinese market. The integration of AI technology into TikTok has enhanced the app's user experience and recommendation system.

By capitalizing on the growing popularity of short-form video content, TikTok has become a global sensation, attracting millions of users worldwide. This success contrasts with the demise of other social media platforms like Vine, which discontinued its app, and CNN Plus, which shut down due to low viewership and debt concerns.

Additionally, Clubhouse experienced a decline after the pandemic, as the removal of the invite-only feature caused a rapid influx of new members, and the management failed to define a successful business model.

Other Platform Demises

Following the integration of Musical.ly into TikTok, there have been other notable platform demises in the social media landscape. These declines in popularity have had significant impacts on competitors, leaving a void in the market. Two examples of such platform demises are Vine and CNN Plus.

Vine, an American video social networking platform, was founded in 2012 but discontinued its mobile app in 2016. Despite its initial popularity, Vine failed to adapt to changing user preferences and ultimately shut down. This decline in popularity opened up opportunities for other video sharing platforms like TikTok to emerge and dominate the market.

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Similarly, CNN Plus, a video streaming service and offshoot of CNN, faced a rapid demise just one month after its launch. The platform struggled with low viewership and mounting debt concerns, ultimately leading to its shutdown. This failure had an impact on the streaming service industry, highlighting the challenges of launching and sustaining a successful platform in a highly competitive market.

These platform demises serve as reminders of the ever-changing dynamics of the social media landscape and the need for continuous innovation and adaptation to stay relevant.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did Abercrombie & Fitch's Controversial Image and Advertising Impact Its Reputation?

The controversial image and advertising of Abercrombie & Fitch had a significant impact on its reputation, leading to a decline in influence. These controversies tarnished the brand's image and alienated potential customers, contributing to its loss of relevance in the market.

What Were the Key Factors That Led to Abercrombie & Fitch's Decline in Influence in the Teen Market?

The decline in Abercrombie & Fitch's influence in the teen market can be attributed to the impact of fast fashion and changing consumer preferences. Teens sought cheaper, trendier clothing and prioritized social responsibility and inclusivity.

Why Did Abercrombie & Fitch Close 450 Stores and Focus on Online Sales?

Due to a shift in consumer behavior and the impact of COVID-19, Abercrombie & Fitch closed 450 stores and focused on online sales. This strategic move allowed the company to adapt to changing market trends and reach their target demographic more effectively.

How Did the Controversies Surrounding Abercrombie & Fitch Affect Its Position in the Retail Industry?

The controversies surrounding Abercrombie & Fitch negatively impacted its position in the retail industry. The company faced a decline in sales and a negative customer response due to its controversial advertising, discriminatory practices, and inappropriate conduct allegations.

What Were the Reasons Behind the Demise of Other Social Platforms Like Vine, CNN Plus, and Clubhouse?

The demise of social platforms like Vine, CNN Plus, and Clubhouse can be attributed to various factors. Vine's decline was due to limited content sharing features, while CNN Plus failed due to low viewership and financial concerns.


In conclusion, Abercrombie & Fitch's decline can be attributed to a combination of controversies, failure to adapt to shifting consumer trends, and a lack of inclusivity. The appointment of a new CEO and the implementation of a brand overhaul have allowed the company to maintain a strong online presence, positioning it for potential growth in the e-commerce landscape.

However, it remains to be seen whether Abercrombie & Fitch can successfully regain its relevance and appeal to a wider market.

One interesting statistic is that Abercrombie & Fitch closed over 300 stores worldwide as part of its restructuring efforts in 2017.

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