I don't normally use this blog as a platform for campaigns but this is a worthy exception that deserves to be spread far and wide and which is of interest to me and, I hope, at least some of my readers.
Some of you may already know about, or have read, the ongoing controversy surrounding the Burlington Arcade in Mayfair (scene of a dozen period film and TV shoots - chances are you've seen it on screen at one time or another, even if you haven't walked through it) which was recently bought by a conglomerate of American and European investment/hedge fund companies. Some long-standing shops in the arcade have allegedly been forced out, with the very real threat of brands unsuited to the historic and refined nature of the arcade moving in, along with a proposed "redesign" which may or may not be appropriate.
What has happened since November I can't say (I can only hope a suitable compromise has been reached, at best) but now a new threat has appeared on the horizon for another long-standing, traditional area of Westminster - Savile Row.
One of the last shopping streets anywhere in the country to contain purely tailors and justly famous the world over as the home of bespoke gentlemen's clothing, Savile Row's 200-year sartorial history is one of the [many] jewels in London's crown. Names like Gieves & Hawkes, Huntsman and Henry Poole are synonymous with the Row and with top-quality men's tailoring. Famous and historic gentlemen from Britain and abroad including Fred Astaire, Winston Churchill, Noël Coward and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales have all bought their clothes there.
The threat takes the form of American clothiers Abercrombie & Fitch, who already have their flagship store around the corner in Burlington Gardens. They have put forward an application to open an Abercrombie Kids - yes, that's right, a children's clothes shop - in No. 3 Savile Row.
|3 Savile Row|
There is no place for Abercrombie & Fitch, or any of its offshoots but particularly a youth branch, in Savile Row. It simply does not suit the area. Savile Row is legendary for being the provider of top-notch bespoke menswear, refined over two centuries and admired throughout the world. It's more than just a street full of tailors, it is - like the Burlington Arcade - an historic artery of the City. It attracts tourists, it attracts well-heeled patrons whose families may have used the same tailor for generations and it is a source of aspiration for chaps like me. All that could be lost if this application is approved.
From what little I know of Abercrombie & Fitch (having never been in one of their shops and, quite frankly, never likely to) I can think of fewer clothes stores less suited to the hallowed Row. The thought of hoodies, t-shirts and jeans being sold alongside the best tweed, wool and cotton suits in the country turns my stomach even more than A&F's penchant for pumping their sickly cologne and overly loud pop music into their stores and so out into the street.
Established Savile Row tailors are naturally concerned about the effect this will have on the Row - and they should know! One has even gone so far as to fear for the safety aspect of the street should an Abercrombie Kids set up shop at Number 3. They have rightly made a formal complaint to Westminster Council and I urge you to do the same through the medium of this petition, set up by Mr Gustav Temple of The Chap magazine.
It has always been a source of pleasure and pride to see Savile Row spoken of with such admiration by so many of the vintage and sartorial blogs of which I am a follower and I hope you will join me now in opposing this application.