Insights | Abercrombie & Fitch: A Journey of Resilience and Reinvention

Insights | Abercrombie & Fitch: A Journey of Resilience and Reinvention
David Tann offers perspective on Abercrombie’s record-breaking first-quarter earnings and a remarkable 459% stock growth over the past year. In addition to David’s time in house with the legacy brand in the mid-2000s, Tantrum worked with A&F in 2021 to create a video series highlighting life behind the brand.

As a former employee of Abercrombie & Fitch from 2005-2008, I had the privilege of witnessing the brand during one of its most prosperous eras. I started as a graphic designer for Hollister, focusing on graphic tees, and eventually rose to become the Marketing Manager for Gilly Hicks, a new concept at the time. However, my tenure coincided with the onset of the 2008 economic downturn, and I left the company just before the worst of it hit. My experiences were largely marked by record sales and profits, making the subsequent decline of the brand all the more poignant.

Seeing Abercrombie & Fitch struggle post-2008 was difficult. The brand I knew was synonymous with success, yet it faced severe criticism and declining popularity due to its controversial and exclusive marketing practices. The diversity issues and lawsuits the company faced were indicative of a broader social reckoning that was both necessary and overdue.

What stands out to me the most is the remarkable leadership of CEO Fran Horowitz. Rather than shying away from the company’s troubled history, she confronted it head-on. She acknowledged past mistakes and used those hard lessons as a foundation for positive change. This is not an overnight success story but the result of years of meticulous planning and a steadfast commitment to doing what is right, even before the broader world caught on. Abercrombie & Fitch’s transformation is a testament to the power of inclusivity and the importance of truly seeing and valuing people from diverse backgrounds.

The recent Forbes article highlights this transformation, reporting record-breaking first-quarter earnings and a remarkable 459% stock growth over the past year, outperforming even tech giant Nvidia. This growth forecast comes at a time when many organizations and politicians are challenging the very principles that have fueled A&F’s recent success. It wasn’t too long ago that companies everywhere were making bold statements and commitments to diversity in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests. Yet, many of those companies have since abandoned those commitments.

In contrast, Abercrombie & Fitch has remained true to its principles, and it is incredibly refreshing to see a company succeed by sticking to its values. During my time at A&F, success was the norm. We were breaking records left and right. Seeing the company thrive once again feels familiar yet distinctly different. It has evolved into a more inclusive and accepting organization, and that is a change worth celebrating.


Featured image courtesy of Getty Images