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American Eagle's beginning was with the Silverman family, which owned and operated Silvermans Menswear. By the mid-1970s, two of the Silverman brothers—from 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.
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