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American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., known as American Eagle, is an American lifestyle, clothing, and accessories retailer headquartered at SouthSide Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1977 by brothers Jerry and Mark Silverman as a subsidiary of Retail Ventures, Inc., a company that also owned and operated Silverman’s Menswear. The Silvermans sold their ownership interests in 1991 to Jacob Price of Knoxville, Tennessee. American Eagle Outfitters is also the parent company of Aerie.
The brand targets male and female university and high school students, although older adults also wear the brand. There are currently 933 American Eagle Outfitters stores: 109 Aerie stand-alone stores and 4 Tailgate stand-alone stores. In 1977, the first American Eagle Outfitters store opened in Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan.
Some of the brand’s popular products are jeans, polo shirts, graphic T-shirts, boxers, outerwear, and swimwear.
American Eagle’s beginning was with the Silverman family, which owned and operated Silvermans Menswear. By the mid-1970s, two of the Silverman brothers—the third generation of Silvermans in the family business—were running the family business. Jerry Silverman was the president and CEO, while his brother, Mark Silverman, served as executive vice-president and COO. The Silverman brothers were convinced they needed to diversify their product offerings in order to continue growing their company. They also recognized that the addition of new family-owned chains would then enable them to operate more than one store in the same mall. Their first attempt was to open American Eagle Outfitters in 1977, positioning it as a proprietor of brand-name leisure apparel, footwear, as well as accessories for men and women, emphasizing merchandise suited for outdoor sports, such as hiking, mountain climbing, and camping. Stores were set up in shopping malls and a catalog was established. The chain grew for much of the 1980s. In 1989, the owners decided to refocus their business on American Eagle Outfitters, selling their other retail chains. At that time, there were 137 American Eagle Outfitters stores in 36 different states.
Despite the plans for quick growth after the reorganization, American Eagle Outfitters opened only 16 new stores by 1991 and the company was losing money. At this point, the Schottensteins, who had been 50% owners of the chain since 1980, bought out the founding Silverman family’s interest. This change in leadership resulted in American Eagle finding its present niche: casual clothing for men and women selling private label clothes.
When the company began trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange in the second quarter of 1994, it had 167 stores and a healthy cash flow. With the cash infusion from the IPO, the company opened more than 90 new stores within the next year. Several new executives joined the company in 1995 and ’96, leading to another change in the target demographic. Over the next five years, revenues quintupled to $1 billion by 2000. AE opened the first Canadian store in 2000.