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Sam Shahid fondly remembers the exhilaration of his college days in the turbulent '60s. As president of a University of Alabama frat house, "I took that Dixie flag down," he recalls. "We had a great time being young."

It's that spirit Mr. Shahid, 58, has successfully captured in the marketing efforts for Abercrombie & Fitch as both the head of his own New York-based ad agency-Shahid & Co.-and as the retailer's chief marketing officer. The dual role gives him the nimbleness and agility he needs to follow his spirit in building one of the most successful retail brands.

"It's an honest thing we're doing," he says. "It's not based on research."

Using his no-formula formula, Mr. Shahid has built A&F's hybrid unaudited magazine and catalog into a marketing phenomenon, with pages jumping from 100 in its inaugural issue in the fall of 1997 to 356. With paid subscribers at 350,000, A&F has just raised its price from $5 to $6.

That's a pittance, of course, compared with A&F's sales, which jumped 56% to $815 million in 1998. At the same time, the chain has used its marketing tools to successfully test its children's store, abercrombie.

All in all, the combined marketing and merchandising clout has given a number of

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