Founded in 1892 in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, Abercrombie & Fitch was an elite outfitter of sporting and excursion goods, particularly noted for its expensive shotguns, fishing rods, fishing boats, and tents. In 1976, Abercrombie & Fitch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, finally closing its flagship store at Madison Avenue and East 45th Street in 1977.
Shortly thereafter (in 1978) the name was revived; Oshman's Sporting Goods, a Houston-based retailer owned by Jake Oshman, bought the defunct firm's name and mailing list for $1.5 million. Oshman's relaunched A&F as a mail-order retailer specializing in hunting wear and novelty items. It also opened shops in Beverly Hills, Dallas, and (by the mid-1980s) New York City. Finally, in 1988, Oshman's sold the company name and operations to The Limited, a clothing-chain operator based in Columbus, Ohio. Abercrombie & Fitch gradually shifted its focus to young adults, first as a subsidiary of Limited Brands and then as a separate, publicly traded company; and grew to become one of the largest apparel firms in the United States.
Since 1997, the company has consistently kept a high-profile in the public eye, due to its advertising, its philanthropy, and its involvement in legal conflicts over branding, clothing style and employment practices. In the first decade of the 21st century, the Great Recession battered the company's business as teenagers looked to lower-priced fast fashion brands like H&M and Forever 21 for fashion. Abercrombie & Fitch's stock price dropped from an all-time high of $84.23 in October 2007 to a low of $14.64 in November 2008. The company worked to overhaul its merchandise mix and cut underperforming stores, but lackluster performance has continued. Longtime CEO Michael Jeffries stepped down in December 2014, after 22 years with the company.