There goes the neighborhood. Or, more precisely, the street: Savile Row. The storied street in London where tailors still craft all suits to order, sewing them on the premises. And it's the street where—*gasp!* —Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) wants to move and open a children's store. The locals are unhappy.
"Opening a kids store on Savile Row is a somewhat bizarre thing to do. It's a fairly narrow street, it's got its own atmosphere to it," Mark Henderson, chairman of heritage tailor Gieves & Hawkes, told CNBC. "It's just fundamentally a mistake from Abercrombie. They don't get everything right."
But the youthful target shoppers of that store are far from the key concern. Part of it is a fear that if large chains move in, it will send rents soaring, forcing out the small custom-suit tailors that have been on that street for generations. Then there's the street's heritage, the artisan do-it-by-hand approach that is the antithesis of the global chains that outsource clothing-creation to Chinese or Bangladeshi factories. The community could tolerate Abercrombie & Fitch nearby—indeed, the chain has its London flagship one road away on Old Burlington Street—but not right on Savile Row.
That street has a special historic origin protected status called Grade II*. The Westminster City Council has already rejected several proposals from the chain for how it would handle its proposed Savile Row store. "It seemed as if Abercrombie & Fitch never even tried to understand the importance of a Grade II* listed building in central London, and some of their proposals were utterly unacceptable," said Alastair Moss, the council's chairman of planning. "The conditions will ensure the special character of the world-renowned Savile Row will be preserved."
- See CNBC story
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