I think the larger trend of the Millennial consumer spending more on electronics and eating out will continue. It makes the share of wallet available for fashion that much smaller and it will make the competitive game more intense than it has been. That is not favorable for the fashion business.
– Arthur C. Martinez, chairman of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
A little fashionable history lesson: Most people are not aware that Abercrombie & Fitch has been around since 1892 and initially it was anything but a teen haven. Indeed, A&F was an upscale sporting goods store located originally just in New York City but later opening stores in other select locations. Including, in 1958, a big branch in San Francisco at 220 Post Street.
The original A&F was well-regarded and regularly created a buzz for itself with moves such as importing Mahjong (is that a sport?)to the US in the early 1900s and outfitting (or styling) Charles Lindbergh for his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. All stores sold sporting equipment, like tennis rackets, golf clubs, and guns as well as sports clothing for men and eventually for women. After decades of growth and success, A&F started to falter in the 1970s with a final closure in 1977.
In 1988, Limited Brands purchased the name, dumped sporting goods and over time it has become a teenage mall brand known for beefcake ads, controversial slogans, and variations on t-shirts and shorts. Although a smash hit with its target audience, lately the A&F’s popularity has diminished in part probably because as Mr. Martinez comments, this new round of teenager isn’t as inclined to spend money on fashion.