Not quite our class, darling! Savile Row tailors deny snobbery...

... but say chain stores will really lower the tone

The gentlemen of Savile Row are getting hot under their stiffly starched collars as they absorb the news that yet another vulgar imposter, this time The Kooples, a French fashion brand, is about to lower the tone of their Mayfair street.

The tailors who cut and assemble suits in the street whose name is synonymous with quality, still reeling from news that the preppy, all-American Abercrombie & Fitch is proposing to open a children's store in their exclusive neighbourhood, now have a new concern: the indie-chic label The Kooples is soon to arrive, attracting skinny jean-clad hipsters to the area. Traditional tailors fear the chain will turn the world-renowned street into "one of the generic malls or high streets we have across the country".

The Kooples, set up by three brothers from a family of rag trade entrepreneurs – its first store opened in the sixth arrondissement of Paris in 2008 – is in talks with the owner of the lease of No 5 Savile Row to take on the shop from Bernard Weatherill.

The newcomers will sit alongside the Ivy League clothes chain which is planning to open its store at No 3, in the building that was once The Beatles' Apple headquarters, while Alexander McQueen is opening a menswear store at No 9.

Mark Henderson is chairman at Savile Row Bespoke Association, a group of 14 companies formed to protect the art of hand-craft tailoring on the street where Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham shop today, and Lord Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill bought their suits in the past.

"We would like the street to be the home of fantastic quality, luxury menswear," he said. "A fashion store is not particularly welcome as it does not fit in to what Savile Row, including its heritage and history, is about."

Anda Rowland, vice chairman of Anderson & Sheppard tailors, said: "We're not sniffy or looking down our noses at these brands; we just feel it is a great shame to see Regent Street wrapping into Savile Row. It has been the home of tailors for hundreds of years, and we won't be able to get that character back when the chain stores move in. It makes the tailoring industry more difficult to preserve and, if Savile Row becomes like one of the endless generic malls or high streets, it is a loss for everybody."

Property sources have said the deal is close to being signed, although Cushman & Wakefield, a property company advising The Kooples, would not comment on its plans.

The Kooples, a play on the French pronunciation of couples, has taken France by storm: there are 111 stores across the nation selling British indie and rock'n'roll-inspired fashion with a hint of Parisian chic – former Libertine Pete Doherty helped to design a collection. Actresses Clémence Poésy, Hilary Duff and Rachel Bilson are fans of the brand that uses real couples in its advertising campaigns. It is now selling its style back to the Brits, with T-shirts starting at £65, and most clothing selling for more than £100. Compared with Savile Row, where bespoke suits can cost more than £3,500, this is little more than shabby chic.

Last month, tailors reacted angrily at the prospect of Abercrombie & Fitch's new children's shop, expanding its franchise of East Coast leisurewear served by intimidatingly attractive and semi-naked staff in Burlington Gardens, just out of sight of most of Savile Row.

One tailor described it as "like adding orange squash to the best vintage champagne", while another said: "I don't think anyone objects to moving forward, but a chain store selling crappy clothes to ghastly people isn't really the direction in which we should be travelling."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

    £17100 - £20900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

    £19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Legal Assistant

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    Day In a Page

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests