Old School Abercrombie

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by shuman, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. shuman

    shuman Well-Known Member

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    I am talking about how they were before the child porn industry took over. I'm sure there are those of you on here old enough to remember what it was like. How did it differ from L.L.Bean, etc.? What pieces where they known for? I just find it interesting...Maybe they will go back to that stuff once the fad wears off? [​IMG]
     
  2. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    I still wear two of my grandfather's Abercrombie shirts made during the 1940's. As a matter of fact, the cotton flannel Winter Weekend Warmer I sell on Ebay (no, no, no, not custom, not single needle, not, not, not) is a copy I made in my M-T-M factory 15 years ago of one of those Abercrombies.
    But, when those were made, Sulka was in business, Brooks made their own shirts in the basement, and the Custom Shop had just opened their doors. Now Brooks makes money, not shirts ... and Sulka and the Custom Shop have no doors.
     
  3. mrgoblueguy

    mrgoblueguy Senior member

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    You should be removed for mentioning Abercrombie...
     
  4. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    The old Abercrombie was more upscale than Bean. Bean was for guys who hunted deer and ruffed grouse in New England. Abercrombie was for guys who went on safari (real safaris, not South African ranch hunts) or shot red grouse in Scotland. The old Abercrombie even offered such exotic outdoor apparel as beagling uniforms--hunting rabbits with beagles (green jacket, white pants, black boots). Abercrombie also sold top-quality guns, high-grade fishing rods and such. They had a close relationship with Griffin & Howe, which for many years was one of the very top creators of custom-made rifles in the USA.
     
  5. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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  6. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    My impression from the occasional goods I come across on Ebay, was that Abercrombie catered to the gentleman hunter.  Below Holland & Holland in the pecking order, similar in price to present-day Barbour, most aesthetically comparable to the RTW apparel I've seen sold by Beretta.
     
  7. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Yup. Got the Rod (with metal carrying case) and the deep-sea reel (with the braided copper line) as well. Rod, reel & line still in excellent condition. Of course, there are also the 3 pair of solid wood skis. Ahhh, Abercrombie & Fitch.
     
  8. aybojs

    aybojs Senior member

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    I have an old Abercrombie catalog from the 1920's or so. It's at home, not at college with me, but I recall it being much more of an overall outdoorsman and hunting supply store. There was a lot of clothing, but the overall lifestyle of the whole outdoor experience was what it emphasized.
     
  9. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    I think norcal has it right. Sort of a gentleman sportman's store. On EBay, I've seen old tackle/gun boxes; a leather covered flask; old jackets. I noticed a few days ago a nice leather jacket from the early 1980s Abercromie. Actually, I almost think we're now in the 3rd iteration of Abercrombie. There's the old NYC Abercrombie; then there's the Abercrombie I remember from the early 1980s, which tried to bring back the gentleman sportsman/Yalie thing, and catered to an older crowd. Today's seems more like JCrew.

    I still have a old cotton/water resistant outdoors jacket from the original NYC store that my father bought there in the mid or late 1960s. I also have a great set of foul weather sailing gear that I bought in the mid-1980s at the Washington, DC Abercrombie (made by Helly-Hanson though). Today, I'd be pretty sure that any thing sold at Abercrombie is made in a third world country, or China at least. But, perhaps they actually now turn a profit.
     
  10. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    I think the characterizations of the original Abercrombie & Fitch as primarily a high-end sporting goods store that sold a lot of clothing are right on the mark. Holland & Holland for most of its illustrious history was strictly a gunmaker. Its venture into outdoor clothing is a very recent development. I am sure that no few Holland & Holland guns passed through Abercrombie in its heyday.

    There were stores similar to A&F in other American cities. The Chicago counterpart to Abercrombie was Von Lengkerke (sp.?) & Antoine. Here in SoCal we had Alex Kerr's Sport Shop in Beverly Hills, frequented by many sporting celebrities. It folded in the early 1980s. I was on good terms with Jerry Knight who ran their firearms department.

    Then there was the short-lived Abercrombie & Fitch "II" ca. 1980. They had stores in various locations, including the Beverly Center in LA. It was definitely in the spirit of the original but somewhat more oriented to mass marketing. I think this enterprise folded pretty quickly.

    Finally, a tale of today's Abercrombie: Yesterday evening my wife and I were in South Coast Plaza. My wife wanted to get an Abercrombie gift certificate for her son. As we started in the doorway, we were confronted by a muscular, shaven-chested "hunk"--naked from almost the groin upward. His gray undershorts were perhaps a half-inch away from indecent exposure and his jeans a good deal lower than that. I presume he was one of their models and that you could be photographed with him since there was a fetching lass nearby with a camera. It was the damndest, most tasteless thing I've ever seen in what is supposed to be one of the nation's premier retail centers. O tempora, o mores.
     
  11. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    Speaking of companies that were different in the 80's, I distinctly remember the Banana Republic in the mall near me having a Jeep "crashed" through its window as part of its display. This would have been around 1988 or so. Did they once cater to the faux-safari market as well?
     
  12. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Did Banana Republic try to cater to the "faux safari" market? Very much so, as their name implies. Abercrombie, on the other hand, was the real deal, at least the original one. An amusing story is that when Banana Republic were just starting up, we tried to sell them advertising in Guns & Ammo magazine. They shied at that: We were too hard-core and the "real thing" for them. They soon evolved away from faux-safari into generalized sportswear. Eddie Bauer had a somewhat similar but more protracted evolution in the same direction. I can remember when it was "Eddie Bauer--Expedition Outfitter."
     
  13. Kaga

    Kaga Senior member

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    IMMSMC, they were once purely a catalog retailer. They were then bought by GAP in the early 1980s and developed as a faux-safari-gear retailer. Around 1991 they morphed into the upscale J.Crew they are now. I was in one of their stores recently for a special Chairman-only sale and was fairly impressed. Prices are decent, and the dress shirts good quality and good looking, with MOP buttons. Thomas Pink at twice as much (and made in similar 3rd world countries) has plastic buttons. Of course, we're talking about high street retailers here, but you could do much worse - like Abercrombie. Obnoxious as Abercrombie is, I still think it is better than the prison-bitch style oversized droopy jeans the suburban kids were wearing a few years ago.
     
  14. stache

    stache Senior member

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    I remember Abercrombie from the early to mid seventies trying to appeal to the horsey set, more than strict hunters -
     
  15. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Senior member

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    Just look to the law and to literature (two areas of passion for me) to see a "then and now."

    Check out Steinbeck - Abercrombie & Fitch is mentioned in Stenbeck's Travels with Charlie, a non-fiction novel in which Steinbeck has to purchase some Abercrombie gear before going on his cross country caravan journey.

    Comparing two of Abercrombie's intellectual property cases will provide a telling comparison:
    In 1976, Abercrombie sued "Hunting World" for trademark infringement on their "Safari" clothing line. Particluarly, the court considered how "Safari" was suggestive of things such as hiking boots and tents.
    In 2002, Abercrombie & Fitch sued American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., in a similar cause of action. The company now describes itself as a "retailer of men's and women's casual clothing, such as t-shirts, outerwear, sweatshirts, woven shirts, sweaters, jeans, khakis, shorts, baseball caps, belts, socks, and other accessories . . . designed primarily to appeal to young men and women of college age."

    Enough said.
     

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