Abercrombie & Fitch, the cheeky American clothier who fervently advocates the concept that “sex-sells,” plans to open a children’s shop on London’s storied Savile Row. The retailer already has 99 stores outside the United States in addition to 946 in the U.S.
For those unfamiliar with Savile Row, it is a shopping street in Mayfair (central London), famous for its traditional men’s bespoke tailoring since the 19th Century. In fact, the term “bespoke” is said to have originated on the Row.
So, when the cheeky Americans decided to open a shop on the storied Row, certain traditionalists got their knickers in a bunch.
First, the Savile Row Bespoke Tailors Group objected to Abercrombie & Fitch’s planning application, saying that one of the company’s shops near to Savile Row had already “changed the tone and safety of the street.”
Next came the gentlemen who produce The Chap magazine who staged a protest of the shop to demonstrate their unhappiness with the general trend of British retailing, with shirts and ties being overwhelmed by a new breed of shop promoting trendy T-shirts. They waved posters showing a gent of the 1940s in a double-breasted suit with broad lapels.
Gustav Temple, editor of The Chap magazine, said Savile Row is precious because “it is really the last insult, it’s the last street in the capital devoted to a single trade.”
“Give three-piece a chance,” they sang, adapting John Lennon’s famous song (The Beatles’ label Apple Records was once an occupant of Savile Row).
But of course, all of this brouhaha delivers Abercrombie & Fitch another famous marketing axiom in addition to “sex-sells”…that is, “any publicity is good publicity.”