Man’s Favorite Sport, 1964

What was the old Abercrombie & Fitch like, back when it was a sporting goods store (that also sold clothes, pipes, and other gentleman’s necessities) just casting distance from Brooks Brothers?

Well here’s a glance via the 1964 movie “Man’s Favorite Sport,” in which Rock Hudson plays a fishing expert at A&F, decked out in what you might call Trad Continental.

The comedy derives from the fact that, naturally, he’s never been fishing in his life.

Given the continuing debate over authenticity in the comments section, it would appear that the covert battle between the genuine and ersatz has been with us for quite some time. — CC

13 Comments on "Man’s Favorite Sport, 1964"

  1. Within the 2 block radius between 44th Street and 46th Street off Madison Avenue 1960s menswear competitors of J.Press were on a tight bench that included Chipp, Lord Tailors, Brooks Bros., Paul Stuart, Arthur M. Rosenberg, Abercrombie & Fitch,and F.R.Tripler. End of season cash sales produced Super Bowl sidewalk hysteria..

    • A&F had a store in Cook County IL in the mid 80’s. They were getting out of hunting and fishing and dumping leather-bound books by Roark and O’Connor for near nothing. I was a recent college graduate living hand to mouth, but was able to pick some up very affordably. Who knew what they would morph into? How about Willis & Geiger?

  2. Mitchell S. | April 13, 2018 at 12:22 pm |

    “lake Wakapoogee…” (hilarity ensues).

  3. Lillian Ross’s 1950 profile of an over-the-hill Hemingway in the New Yorker includes a shopping trip to the old Abercrobmie. It seems to be free online and the whole thing is a great read. At one moment Hemingway selects a rifle and takes aim while considering himself in the mirror. If this were fiction, you’d think such foreshadowing was hack stuff.

    • Eric, Thank you for taking the time to share the article. Everything I’ve read regarding Hemingway leads me to believe no one loved Hemingway like Hemingway did.

  4. Charlottesville | April 13, 2018 at 4:32 pm |

    Thanks for the New Yorker article, Eric. Very interesting. He sounds almost like a caricature of Hemingway by that point.

    I wish I could have seen A&F when it was still the classic outfitter. I thought I recalled visiting the old Madison Ave. and 45th St. store in the 1980s, but that was after the change from sporting goods to clothing, so maybe my memory is faulty and the location was different. Hopefully the new management will make some improvements in the merchandise.

  5. Roger Sack | April 13, 2018 at 7:25 pm |

    The old A & F did have tailored clothing along with a
    seemingly endless assortment of out door sporting
    apparel, for fishing, hunting, safari, etc. I never bought
    anything from them, but do recall trying on a herringbone
    tweed jacket with a belt in the back in the early sixties.
    That was a bit beyond my trad comfort zone at the time.

  6. Edward Aisthorpe | April 14, 2018 at 6:12 am |

    The second photo, chap on the left. Love the suit

  7. Tremendous anecdotes concerning A&F’s most well known patron.

  8. Major Phipps looks great.

  9. Thirty years ago and before, A&F managed a fine place on the Country Club Plaza in KCMO. I shopped there back in the day – clothing (especially sweaters), even a beautiful umbrella, now long-tested; I was fond of their shaving supplies; their brushes and mugs seemed at par with those from Geo Trumper. It was a grand place to browse, especially at Christmastime, when all the new sporting “toys” came out. A&F also operated a splendid store in the Georgetown Mall (D.C.) and I always tried to stop by during business trips. Then, almost suddenly, the stores began to slide backward. Next the catalogues changed, proclaiming the glories of torn jeans, sweatshirts and grunge all around. So sad to see the place in freefall, then tumbling into obscurity. I do hope they recover, although the climb back will be long and slow, if at all.

  10. I don’t think I ever visited an A&F. There is/was a store in a mall about 20 miles away from my home. I recall back in the late 1960’s, Tom McCahill, the car tester for Mechanix Illustrated lamented the downfall of A&F back then.

    From his column and car reports, he grew up in the Ivy style, before WW2. Got the impression he came from money. He always wrote about his early years. I recall he gave a tip on smoking pipes. The thicker the wall, the cooler smoking. I always remembered that.

    The last column I read from him, was about his purchase and testing of a Rolls Royce. He commented that the Rolls cost two Cadillacs and change, back in 1972. ($25K).

  11. Poison Ivy Leaguer | April 15, 2018 at 7:25 pm |

    Memories of A&F (the real one) My college girlfriend loved to buy her Weejuns there they had tassels and kilties. When my father-in-law lost some weight, he gave me his A&F gaberdine balmacaan that no longer fit him. Loved that coat! One of my Kelley School Marketing profs always used A&F as an example of elite retailing. One of my old hometown friends went to prep school with a nephew (?) of Earle Angstadt.

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