Thursday, October 9, 2014

All About Style! | Ezra Fitch Forever...

The great Erza Hasbrouck Fitch, co-founder of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.,
who incorporated the company in 1904 with David Abercrombie (who had originally
established it as Abercrombie Co. in 1892) before David walked out
in move of fate and left Ezra as sole owner in 1907.
         THE MID-2000s were a truly beautiful period at Abercrombie & Fitch that marks whomever experienced it as a privileged fan for the ages. Flourishing after the folding of the A&F Quarterly (1997-2003), a micro-era was ushered in heralding a new stage witnessing an unprecedented concentration of ultimate creativity with heightened exclusivity: the manifestation of near-luxury ideals; ever-fresh all-new marketing season after season, Spring Break, Summer, Back-to-School/Fall, and Christmas/Winter; creatively-daring-yet-classic diverse merchandise with various unique, heritage-evocative, beautiful back-stitched labels; backstage beginnings of international expansion plans for the near-future, and the opening of the first A&F Flagship on the world-renowned Fifth Avenue; Hollister very much establishing itself as the authentically coolest brand for the exclusively popular teen kids in school, RUEHL taking its first steps, and Gilly Hicks in inspired, sophisticated development as A&F's Cheeky Cousin for women 18 and up. All solely in America. Those were truly the days, and at Abercrombie & Fitch, the defining Casual Luxury branding theme commanded the ethos of the brand with notes of genuinely premium spirit.

The zenith of the such alluring attitude at A&F was the ingenious, premium Ezra Fitch label collection of wears for men and women. Named after the godman eponymous co-founder who solely lead Abercrombie & Fitch Co., between 1907 and 1928, into its golden years during the greater Sporting Goods Era, the label commanded premium price points in double-and-everywhere-triple-figures featuring goods incorporating even higher-grade materials, detail and construction to purvey exceptional pieces to stand the test of time and style...

Debuted at Abercrombie & Fitch stores and online upon the July 14 launch of Back-to-School/Fall 2004, the Ezra Fitch goods were featured in the premier A&F Magazine issue for that season – that publication was shortlived to only three issues after that, and the brand would only mail out catalogs before finally discontinuing all publications in 2007 – which tied together all elements of the campaign; it was worn with A&F pieces by the models and profiled young rising stars in it. (The issue proved itself impressive in the years that followed in the industry for having been so precise with the majority of its selection of young men and women, in the greater marketing, who achieved reputability in acting, singing, and modeling: Taylor Swift, Kellan Lutz, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Carmack, Justin Bruening, Michelle Trachtenberg, Hillary Rhoda just to name a very few of the whole notable repertoire who were in the campaign). Select individuals were also chosen for campaign photography which was also hung on the walls instore and each carried a personalized line, "[actor's name] for Ezra Fitch."

The issue features an intro by a supposed eponymous grandchild of the co-founder.
A young Kellan Lutz is seen on the opposite page as photographed by Weber.
Image, C.E.R. for The Sitch on Fitch, September 2013.

Chris Carmack as one of the main marketing models.
Top image, Bruce Weber for A&F. Bottom two, photos by
C.E.R. of his Fall 2004 A&F Magazine, September 2013

The Ezra Fitch collection also came to encompass a line of fine fragrance for men and women. These were the masculine EZRA FITCH in cologne form (3.4 fl oz, US$79.50) and feminine EZRA in eau de parfum (3.4 fl oz, US$79.50) and utmost purest parfum form (0.5 fl oz, US$108; the most expensive fragrance offering ever from the Company)...

All three were packaged in a protective, hard, dark-brown box cover, which went over the bottle-inset bottom, with an embossed silver-color label on the front, "[fragrance name] by Abercrombie & Fitch." EZRA FITCH furthermore featured leather wrapping around the sophisticated flask-esque bottle, and the EZRA bottles were of exquisitely designed glass with a metal neck (eau de parfum) or wrapped fine string (parfum), geometric top, and a metal bottom-nameplaque.

The only flagship ever to have featured Ezra Fitch was A&F Fifth Avenue (opened for Christmas 2005) which more cultivated the near-luxury ideal at a time furthermore featuring Casual Luxury at the forefront of marketing. Creative design for merchandise and advertising for Ezra Fitch, too, featured the distinguished font for "Casual Luxury" (A&F) and "Classic Cool" (a&f kids; then initialized "a92") and signature to A&F though no longer much used at all in the 2010s.

Top two images, Ezra Fitch cargo shorts for a trip to Hong Kong,
A&F Flagship included! Images by Patrick M.
for The Sitch on Fitch, 8 June 2013.

Snapshot of interior A&F shopping bag, Christmas 2006,
with Casual Luxury promo card. Image by C.E.R.
for The Sitch on Fitch, 9 October 2014.

During the time, it was said that there were some similarities between the Ezra Fitch label and what was purveyed by RUEHL No.925 – an upscale, sophisticated Greenwich Village-inspired concept, by Abercrombie & Fitch, which launched on September 24, 2004, and targeting adults ages 22 through 35. Both did reflect the pursuit of higher-end aesthetics at their utmost which came to light that year at the Company; design-wise, utilizing leather as a key note (i.e. premium jeans' exterior back label, jackets, accessories, etc.); and just generally a more sophisticated, creative, premium spirit venture above even the flagship Abercrombie & Fitch brand. Nevertheless, Ezra Fitch maintained in line with the essence of A&F while RUEHL was city business casual and trend fashion. It could be said that Ezra Fitch bridged between Abercrombie & Fitch and RUEHL. However, both Ezra Fitch and RUEHL also came to be unfortunately shortlived.

Ezra Fitch was discontinued by 2006, and it was never really evident that the Company planned on making it an established micro-label within the Abercrombie & Fitch brand. (RUEHL was anticipated to grow to become a great contributor to the Company as it was launched as a lifestyle brand, but things just didn't go as planned and shuttered in 2010). The only continuing remnants of the Ezra Fitch label were its fine fragrance line which was continued to be sold until being ultimately retired in 2007.

Some Abercrombie & Fitch stores continued to sell off their Ezra Fitch fragrances
well into the first weeks of 2008. Seen here, sample strip of EZRA eau de parfum
from instore January 2008 with Spring 2008 mega-size shopping bag.
Image, C.E.R. for The Sitch on Fitch, October 9, 2014.

Since then, the Ezra Fitch label commands a niche cult following within the Abercrombie & Fitch community very much as RUEHL No.925 would after its closure. Fortunate and privileged are the fans who experienced it and are obviously an exclusive set of their own for having done so apart from future Company fans who have gained interest in it afterwards. Items for resale, through ecommerce venues such as eBay, vary, but the rare fine fragrance come with rightfully staggering asking prices depending on the amount of previous usage.

Ultimately, Ezra Fitch was one embodiment of the concentrated storm of exceptional, exclusive genius at the Company during that benchmark, classic, golden period what was the pre-Recession mid-2000s. With it's timeless spirit, it inspires through the years with reminisce as being one from a time when creative awe was alive with a push for upscale, higher-grade, premium, exclusive quality and style through marketing and merchandising; fans of the today who experienced it utilize it, along with other concepts of the period, as a sort of reference point, too, in analyzing the A&F of the present and how it stands today...that is what a classical period represents for within its respective culture, and that is what the mid-2000s became with Casual Luxury and Ezra Fitch. #EzraFitchForever!


P.S. Make sure to check out the Ezra Fitch Facebook community page for more pics and details, (here)!