As I mentioned here somewhere recently, a couple weeks ago I attended a fashion presentation by Abercrombie & Fitch. Contributing writer Eric Twardzik, who was visiting from Boston, and I were excited to see the venue, which was The Explorers Club. The collection showed the brand returning to its shopping-mall-collegiate-prep roots, which I consider a good sign for the health of traditional American clothing overall.
Now today WWD reports on a new JFK-themed collection just unveiled. The collection began to take shape when Abercrombie purchased a pair of Kennedy’s chinos at auction, which weren’t some random pair, but actually made by the company when it was a gentleman’s outdoor supplier. They have supposedly been reproduced with a “high” rise (relatively speaking) and straight leg.
WWD spoke with Aaron Levine (formerly with RL-owned Club Monaco):
“We continue to redefine our pillars,” Levine said, “which are Old School prep, Old School varsity athletic, military and outdoor heritage. And in women’s, we mix ‘pretty’ with that and mush it all together. We’re creating an iconic, casual American line that is not pretentious.”
So far the return to “’90s preppy,” according to the Abercrombie site, seems to be working. WWD reports “net income rose 52.1 percent to $74.2 million from $48.8 million a year ago. Net sales rose 15.1 percent to $1.19 billion from $1.04 billion. Boosting the quarter’s results was a comparable sales gain of 5 percent at the Abercrombie division.” — CC
Good news.Need to take a look
This could be interesting. Orvis has taken the territory A&E once occupied. Competition is good.
$1,875 is a lot of money for used khakis.
What is JKF?
Thank you, Andrew!
This is similar to that other auction held a while back in which JFK’s Brooks Brothers boxers were sold, except Brooks never stopped making them.
A welcome change! I remember frequenting the A&F shop at the Georgetown Park mall as an undergrad and a decade later passing by an unrecognizable (to me) A&F store in a different city after living overseas. The photos of the shirtless lads (and nearly shirtless young ladies) on the outside and the heavy bass beats and smells of Drakkar emanating from the inside told me “this is definitely not the A&F I know!”
When I worked at Brooks Brothers the winter of 1959-60, taking a year off from college, Abercrombie & Fitch was a block uptown on the northwest corner of 45th and Madison. I used to browse during my lunch hour. A boy from the lower Midwest, myself, had never seen such a store. The ground floor as I recall, but would not swear to it, stock consisted of shotguns, fishing rods and safari clothing and equipment. You could go up to the roof and hit golf balls If you wished.
A few years later there was a movie with Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss, “Man’s Favorite Sport.” Hudson played a fishing rod salesman who worked at Abercrombie. He was an expert about using fly rods but in fact could not fish at all. A wonderful comedy and the whole AF store of that era is what I remember when I hear that company name.
“Man’s Favorite Sport” was an attempted remake of that great comedy, “Bringing Up Baby,” with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn that I do not remember seeing but have heard about all my life. Hard to fill the shoes of those two.
Mr. Trotter, do you know if the old A&F building is still standing? I know that the modern incarnation of the company has a Manhattan flagship but I doubt if they kept the old one, which I heard was 11 floors. Haven’t seen many pictures, though.
Just went over to their site and was pleasently suprised to see them selling eastland mocs. And some “models” even wear penny loafers. Seems like they are really trying to move (back?) towards “american” style.
Very interested in the JFK chino aswell. Hope they keep most of the rise and width, then it could be a nice chino.
The building has changed and only has retail on the first floor.
Your sense of cruel irony will appreciate that it’s currently occupied by J. Crew.
Thanks for that, CC, how fitting…
On a lighter note, imagine A&F selling guns alongside chinos today. HA!
@CC, you mentioned that the chinos have a *relatively* high rise. Any idea, specifically, what this means? I’d be very interested in details.
RWK, the site doesn’t give the measurement of the rise. Here’s a close-up picture of the pants, the rise doesn’t look too high to me, despite A&F’s claim that they left it the same:
We used to make fun of certain folks’ leaning on the fashion tropes of ‘shirting’ and ‘suiting’ by imagining they would someday try to sell ‘socking’ and ‘spattings’. Now we have Abercrombie & Fitch pants with “tonal herringbone *pocketing*”. Think of the dumbest, most hyperbolic joke you can, and in 18 months somebody will be trying to sell it to you with a straight face.
For extra panache, they’re: i) made overseas yet still cost approx. $100; and ii) come in waist sizes which top out at 34. Those 19 yo, half-nude models in A&F’s catalogs and mall store pictures? Guess what – that’s still their customer.
I put high in quotation marks because yes, in this context it could mean 10.5 inches.
Waists stop at 34? In general, that strategy is a good idea, I think. I had a chat with DCG at Squeeze along these lines last week. They make a 48 short in some of the more tailored cuts (as do Brooks in some Milano fits, etc.), but you can’t get a 38 long. At the time of the conversation, there were three of us in the store who were 38 longs (I’ve dropped a size).
A few years ago there were plans to release I.S. chinos featuring a (true) high waistline with tapered legs. I remember something happened with the contract manufacturer and we ended up getting ties instead… Any chance at reviving the attempt?
The rise, like it has been pointed out doesn’t look as proportionally high as it purports to be. Saying that it’s quite good to know in a post-RL RUGBY world these brands are having success with 90s prep, that keeps a flame alive. Unfortunately the type of angle it appears to be coming from is the 90s lo-life/hip hop angle, which although does have a lot of crossover isn’t really offering the staple Ivy items most of us are after. If they start doing ‘big oxfords’ and healthy fitting chinos with 13 inch rises then we might start having needs met, but I’m not sure the Wu-Tang Clan ever really work that look?
@GS, thanks for the link. I’d be interested to try these on and see what the fit is actually like, but I think most of the speculators here are probably right; it doesn’t look like the rise could be anywhere close to the 12″ or more most of us are looking for.
I can confirm that the new A&F gear was intriguing. Lots of fair isle sweaters, down jackets and chinos—stuck me as a very 70s Japan “Rugged Ivy” vibe. I’m intrigued by the archive pants, but here’s where I voice my own grievance that a 34 length isn’t even an option. At least they don’t seem to have stretch, which has become epidemic.
The waist and length limits suggest they’re still targeting boys, not men.
AF was a wonderful and unique New York store, until it went broke in the late 1970s, after being in business for 85 years. It was the American equivalent of London’s Purdey or Holland and Holland. Not only did it sell shotguns and fishing rods to the elite, it carried fine clothing, such as sport coats made by Norman Hilton. It was Hemingway’s favorite shop; he bought his safari gear there, and (supposedly)the shotgun which he used to kill himself. After it went bankrupt, Oshman’s Sporting Goods bought the name and turned it into a shopping mall chain store.
Well you didn’t get ties instead, that was a completely different project with a different partner!
The khaki project was with Bill Thomas, then at Bills Khakis. He’s at Duck Head now. I’ll mention it and see if they’re interested.
In related news, I spoke last week with a partner about developing an affordable made-in-Asia, probably MTM, Ivy-styled suit. It looks in theory that they can hit the major cut points, including a full rise with tapered leg. Stay tuned.
I see the mention in the comments about J. Press as “Squeeze.” Back in the early 60’s, the nickname in my prep school for A&F was “Evergrabby and Squeeze.” Also, I remember reading in the NYTimes a little bit after that about whoever, I think, was the maestro running Lincoln Center, who was under attack for not controlling costs, that one evening the stage hands were having trouble moving the very heavy sets around, and he had sent someone over to A&F to bring back several dozens of tennis shoes so the stagehands wouldn’t slip.
Has anyone had good luck with tapering a pair of higher rise pants? Say tapering a pair of Bills M1?
I have had good results with tapering higher rise suit pants from Brooks, but have not tried the experiment with Khakis. I agree that M1s, which are otherwise great, could be improved by a judicious tapering. I think it runs around $35 or so at Brooks. Locally, it cost me $25.
I don’t think I’ve shopped at A&F since 2006 or so. Definitely a step in the right direction. Now if they could deliver an affordable OCBD with a decent collar, then that would be a game changer.