Now this is how you stage a goddamn protest. On Monday, well-appointed gentlemen and gentlewomen occupied No. 3 Savile Row where noted purveyor of overpriced trash Abercrombie & Fitch is planning on opening a children’s store. With tongue firmly in cheek and mustaches impeccably-trimmed, the protesters brandished signs reading “Give Three-Piece a Chance.”
The protest was organized by The Chap, “a journal for the modern gentleman” and basically the only magazine I’ll be reading from now on, to keep the bespoked integrity of Savile Row free of A&F’s flip-flopped and cargo-shorted besmirchment.
Thomas Mahon, Prince Charles‘ suitmaker, puts it thusly: “If the bespoke businesses were driven out by crappy retail stores selling poor-quality clothes, then Savile Row’s name would be irreparably damaged.”
The Fitch is already hovering too close for comfort at 7 Burlington Gardens on the immediate outskirts of the Row, and traditionalists fear a store in the heart of the iconic street would “sound the death knell for the Row,” says The Chap‘s pipe smoking editor, Gustav Temple in his opinion piece for The Guardian.
He also points out this interesting tidbit:
In a deeply ironic twist, a source in the tailoring trade has revealed that Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, has his suits made on Savile Row. So the man whose company wants to desecrate the Row clearly values its product much more highly than he values its origin. If you had enjoyed a fine lunch at Le Gavroche, would your response be to open up a McDonald’s next door?
That the protesters were not in actual Savile Row didn’t go unnoticed, nor did the fact that the Row has always been wary of outsiders, even when they were skilled tailors in their own right. According to Forbes:
A decade or more ago, the old guard were complaining of the arrival of flashy “new bespoke” tailors like Ozwald Boateng, Richard James and Timothy Everest. James, however, is now a member of the Savile Row Bespoke Association, guardians of the values (and the value) of Savile Row Bespoke.
Sure this sounds like a whole lot of elitist squawking, but with a 200-year history of outfitting kings, statesmen and luminaries, Savile Row is certainly something worth preserving. Temple perhaps says it best:
You can go to practically any street in any city in Britain and buy the sorts of clothes peddled by Abercrombie & Fitch. You cannot, however, go to any street in the country to get a bespoke suit, and this is why the trade should remain where it is.
With thousands of Abercrombie & Fitch stores — and stores like it — worldwide, what’s wrong with giving three-piece a chance? If you agree, you can sign The Chap‘s petition here.