David T. Abercrombie
|David T. Abercrombie|
June 6, 1867|
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
|Died||August 29, 1931
Ossining, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Founder of Abercrombie & Fitch|
David Thomas Abercrombie (June 6, 1867 – August 29, 1931) was the original founder of the modern American lifestyle brand, Abercrombie & Fitch. A topographer and expert in the outdoors, Abercrombie opened the Company as New York's oufitter for the elite and later partnered up with co-founder Ezra Fitch – both men managed the Company through great years of success. After leaving the company, Abercrombie lived the remainder of his life in California with his family until his death.
Life and career
Birth, studies, and family
David T. Abercrombie was born in Baltimore, Maryland on June 6, 1867 as the son of John and Elizabeth Sarah Abercrombie (née Daniel). His children: Elizabeth, born 1897; Lucy, born 1899; David, born 1901 ; Abbott, born 1909. He has many descendants, including some from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. He was educated in the public schools of Baltimore and by private instructors. Abercrombie later came to study at Baltimore City College and became a practicing civil engineer and topographer, including explorer and chief of survey for Norfolk & Western Railroad in the coal and timber lands of West Virginia.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
On June 4, 1892, he founded Abercrombie Co. as a small waterfront shop at No.36 South Street in downtown Manhattan, New York; where wealthy New York lawyer Ezra Fitch was one of his regular customers. On April 25, 1896, Abercrombie married Lucy Abbot Cate in Baltimore. The couple gave birth to four children: Elizabeth, Lucy, David, and Abbott. The Abercrombie family resided in Newark, New Jersey for some years and maintained a log cabin getaway on Pine Island on Greenwood Lake, New Jersey. Later they resided in Brooklyn, New York and finally in Ossining, New York.
In 1900, Fitch bought a share into the successfully growing Abercrombie Company. In 1904, it was incorporated and renamed "Abercrombie & Fitch Co." Abercrombie later entered into disputes with Ezra Fitch over Fitch's visions of expanding the Company to appeal to the general public, as Abercrombie sought to maintain the Company's standing as an elite store for the elite outdoorsman. Possibly as a result of this rift, Abercrombie left the Company in 1907, selling his share of it to Fitch.
Post A&F and death
In 1917, Abercrombie joined Baker, Murray & Imbrie ("The Sporting Goods Store of Expert Personal Service") as Vice President. He later founded the "David T. Abercrombie Company", a New York City sportsmen’s outfitter, and "Abercrombie Corporation", which packed commodities for export. He died intestate in Ossining at his country estate, a stone castle named Elda, overlooking the Hudson Valley and Long Island Sound.
David Abercrombie's influence in his company has remained as a greater part of it, even after Abercrombie's departure and the company's 1960s-1970s financial issues. Repositioned in the 1980s as a lifestyle brand for the collegiate, Abercrombie & Fitch remains today as a cultural American brand. Although altered to accommodate its promoted image of "Casual Luxury", Abercrombie & Fitch continues to reference to its original image of its early years with the Abercrombie moose and "sexy" male ruggedness. Abercrombie's name is often used as an abbreviated form of the Company's name and is used frequently more than Ezra Fitch's "Fitch" (e.g. "Abercrombie Christmas 2007", "abercrombie.com", "the Abercrombie lifestyle...", etc.). When the Company released a children's version of the A&F brand, abercrombie, it chose to name it after Abercrombie.
Unlike Ezra Fitch, Abercrombie's name has never been used for clothing lines and other products for the A&F brand (Fitch's lines have been removed).
- "Abercrombie, David T.". Men of 1914. Chicago: American Publishers' Association. 1915. OCLC 49777827.
- "D.T. Abercrombie, Sportsman, is Dead; Originator of Noted Firm Dealing in Sporting Goods--Was Explorer, Hunter, Fisherman." New York Times (August 30, 1931), p. N6
- "Abercrombie Left Estate of $10,793; Founder of Sporting Goods Firm Bequeathed Property to Widow and Three Children", New York Times (March 12, 1932) p. 6
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