March 25, 2023

  • Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in the late 1800s as an outdoor store.
  • It was a huge hit among teens in the 2000s until changing tastes and controversy brought it into decline.
  • Abercrombie has seen a revival recently due to its popular clothing and size range.

If you’re a teenager in the 2000s, chances are you’re either shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch or feeling too excluded to set foot in the store.

The 130-year-old retailer may have started catering to fishing and hunting enthusiasts, but by the late 1990s the brand bore little resemblance to its outdoor origins. Its dimly lit, scented stores — known primarily for its shirtless male models and narrow size range — showcase a cool brand that seems off-limits to anyone who isn’t skinny, white, or wealthy .

While Abercrombie may have once been the epitome of a certain cool style, the brand struggled in the 2010s due to shifting public sentiment and numerous controversies and lawsuits, including one all the way to the Supreme Court.

The brand has seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to a new, more inclusive image: It has revamped stores, expanded its range and made its pricing more approachable. Plus, its products have become almost irresistibly stylish, standing out even in an age when fast-fashion brands are vying for Gen Z’s attention.

Here’s how Abercrombie & Fitch rose to fame, lost almost everything, and then made a comeback.

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