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Retro protest at Abercrombie & Fitch's London site

Chaps and chapettes take part in a protest outside the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store on Burlington Gardens against the proposed opening of a children's branch of the U.S. clothing retailer around the corner on Savile Row, the traditional men's bespoke tailoring street in the Mayfair district of London, Monday, April 23 , 2012. The protest on Monday was organised by The Chap magazine, a publication for English gentlemen whose manifesto includes always wearing tweed and cultivating interesting moustaches. Chaps and chapettes take part in a protest outside the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store on Burlington Gardens against the proposed opening of a children's branch of the U.S. clothing retailer around the corner on Savile Row, the traditional men's bespoke tailoring street in the Mayfair district of London, Monday, April 23 , 2012. The protest on Monday was organised by The Chap magazine, a publication for English gentlemen whose manifesto includes always wearing tweed and cultivating interesting moustaches. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
By Robert Barr
Associated Press / April 23, 2012
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LONDON—A tongue-in-cheek protest aimed at fighting vulgarity has targeted Abercrombie & Fitch, the American clothier that plans to open a children's shop on London's storied Savile Row.

The planned shop would be at No. 3 Savile Row, once the home of Apple Records, and The Beatles gave their final performance from the rooftop on Jan. 30, 1969.

The gentlemen who produce The Chap magazine staged their protest Monday not because of The Beatles connection, but because of their devotion to three-piece suits, tweed and snap-brim hats. They waved posters showing a gent of the 1940s in a double-breasted suit with broad lapels.

"Give three-piece a chance," they sang, adapting John Lennon's famous song.

Gustav Temple, editor of The Chap magazine, said the protest reflected unhappiness with the general trend of British retailing, with shirts and ties being overwhelmed by a new breed of shop promoting trendy T-shirts.

He 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."

"We didn't want to go back in time," he said. "But we think the dress code of the 1940s is timeless."

The Savile Row Bespoke Tailors Group had objected to Abercrombie & Fitch's planning application, saying that one of the company's shops adjacent to Savile Row had already "changed the tone and safety of the street."

Savile Row was laid out as a residential street in the 1730s, and its association with exquisite tailoring developed in the mid-19th century.

The protesters feel more at home with the original Abercrombie & Fitch, which sold pricey guns, fishing tackle and outdoor requisites to the elite. It outfitted U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt for an African safari and Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart for their daring flights.

Abercrombie & Fitch has 99 stores outside the United States in addition to 946 at home and is expanding overseas.

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