You'd find it hard to believe now, but before Abercrombie was a teen-loved mall-monster with greased up hunks, and nauseating cologne pumping from its doors, it used to make really great American outdoor gear, camping and hunting equipment. Started by David Abercrombie all the way back in 1892, it was originally called 'Abercrombie & Co'. He was joined by business partner Elra Fitch around 1900, who provided the money to expand the company, and then bought out David's share in the company a few years later. In 1913 the re-named 'Abercrombie & Fitch' moved from Broadway to Fifth Ave, and by the late 1920's it was widely considered to be the largest sporting goods store in the world. The company fell into trouble in the 60's and was declared bankrupt by the mid 1970's. In the late 1980's the company was bought by the Limited. They re-marketed the brand to teens and college students with a softer approach to All-American sportswear, and transformed Abercrombie into the mall chain we know today.
The 'Hudson's Bay company' dates way back to the 1670's as a fur trading post. Furs were traded for manufactured good, and the iconic point blankets were traded by Europeans to Canadians and Native American in exchange for Beaver pelts. By the 1800's there were numerous Hudson's Bay Company trading posts throughout Canada, and many were converted into retail shops as the 20th Century approached. Hooded coats called Capotes were made from the point blankets, perfect for the harsh Canadian winters. The company continues to operate to this day.
From left to right; Vintage L.L.Bean leather & rubber 16'' hunting boots, Vintage hiking boots, Vintage L.L.Bean classic 'Duck' hunting boots.
The L.L.Bean company was founded in 1912 by avid hunter and fisherman Leon Leonwood Bean in Greenwood Maine. He developed a waterproof boot made from a lightweight leather upper and rubber bottoms that he marketed to hunters like himself. After obtaining a list of Maine hunting license holders, he prepared a mail order circular, and set up shop in his brothers basement in Freeport, Maine. From there he started a nation wide mail order business. The mail order company continues to thrive today, and now boasts over a hundred retail and outlet stores worldwide. The original L.L.Bean boot (see above) remains a staple of the company's outdoor image a hundred years later!