It's war between the old buffers and the buff boys

US brand Abercrombie & Fitch stands accused of lowering the tone of London's Savile Row – again

There's a queue every day outside Abercrombie & Fitch's flagship London store on Savile Row. The "lifestyle concept" shop opened in 2007 and, given its conspicuously preppy image, its location seemed not entirely ill-fitting: if Abercrombie's customers really are the wealthy college kids portrayed in its advertising, they might conceivably be the sort to buy bespoke suits 20 years hence. In 2009, the veteran Savile Row tailor Richard Anderson told The Independent that the US chain's arrival was welcome. "Footfall has increased and that can't be a bad thing," he said. "Before, it was a destination venue. But now, while children are in [Abercrombie], their fathers will wander up and buy a shirt, a belt, a tie."

This year, however, some of the Row's exclusive outfitters are railing against Abercrombie's further expansion into their territory. It recently unveiled plans for a children's store at 3 Savile Row, once home to The Beatles' Apple Corps headquarters, but local tailors argue that this would fundamentally alter the character of the historic street, and are seeking to prevent it. Why, they wonder, must the brand concentrate its energy on Savile Row when there are other, more appropriate locations nearby?

Already, the original shop has drawn too many "uncouth" youths to the area and, one tailor complained to the Daily Mail, opening yet another would be "like adding orange squash to the best vintage champagne". In the past five years, the Abercrombie store has become famous not only for clothing retail but also for low lighting, loud music and semi-naked sales assistants.

The chain was established in 1892 to provide shotguns, tents and fishing rods to Manhattan's outdoorsy upper classes. But in its present, publicly-traded incarnation, it aggressively markets men's and women's wear to the highly-sexed, upper-middle-class 18 to 22-year-old. Its website's home page, and that of its spin-off brand Hollister, both feature topless young men in place of actual clothes. In 2004, Abercrombie was forced to pay $40m to settle a series of discrimination lawsuits after a US judge found its college campus image relied too heavily on white models. It was also accused of sexualising children by selling padded bikini tops and thongs in pre-teen sizes.

Alex Bilmes, editor of the men's monthly Esquire, works in an office not far from the Abercrombie flagship, and suggests that the influx of young people to the area might not be so bad after all. "It's not a bad idea for them to know what Savile Row is, and where it is," he says. "If Savile Row was simply made up of very expensive bespoke tailors, one wonders whether anyone but the people who could afford that would really know where it was. That said, we wouldn't want it to turn into a high street. Savile Row is an amazing thing that's specific to London. It ought to be protected, and it would be a real shame if it were taken over by chains."

There is something of a split, Bilmes suggests, between the traditionalists and tyros of Savile Row tailoring. "Sometimes there can be a sort of fuddy-duddiness, which younger tailors like Richard James and Ozwald Boateng have challenged. They know it's no good just getting old duffers to come and spruce up their tweed. You need to attract younger people, and I got the sense they thought it wasn't such a bad thing when Abercrombie first opened."

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

    Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

    £14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

    Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower