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Savile Row Tailor Protest

Mar 13, 2006
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A protest yesterday by the tailors of London's Savile Row must have been one of the most unusual in English history and certainly the most immaculate.

Tailors' protest

Immaculate objection: Bespoke tailors in Savile Row say they have become victims of their own success

Threatened by rising rents and redevelopment plans, more than 150 cutters, finishers and waistcoat makers took to the street.

Their aim was to preserve Savile Row as the home of exclusive bespoke gentlemen's tailoring and to keep the likes of parvenu Gucci, Paul Smith and Louis Vuitton at bay.

As the protesters lined the street clutching shears, swatches and tape measures, the whiff of Brylcreem and quality shoe leather was unmistakable.

There were no placards and no unseemly chanting of "What do we want? When do we want it?"

Jostling was kept to a minimum and relations with two policemen who turned up belatedly to admire the orderly line and turn a blind eye to the imposing shears, were cordial.

Mark Henderson, the chairman of the Savile Row bespoke trade association, denied that there was any snobbery involved in the desire to keep off-the-peg stores out of the street.

Savile Row had "iconic status" that would be undermined if bespoke tailors were replaced by retail outlets, he said. "As champagne and fine wine are to France, Savile Row is to English heritage and craftsmanship."

The 100 or so bespoke tailors in the street say they are victims of their success. The street has become so famous that stores selling off-the-peg designer clothing are circling. Abercrombie and Fitch have already moved in.

The demand from the high street outlets is pushing up rents and encouraging developers to convert workshops and cutting rooms into expensive new shops. Rents have risen by 50 per cent in eight years.

Anderson & Sheppard, established in Savile Row since the 1920s, was forced out last year by rising rents. It has moved to a smaller shop round the corner in Old Burlington Street.

Anda Roland, a spokesman for the firm, said: "When the lease came to an end, the landlord decided to tear up everything behind the facade and split the retail space into three to build offices and penthouse flats. We would have had to pay 50 per cent more for half the space."

The tailors say they need to keep Savile Row as a bespoke centre if they are to survive.

"It would be hugely detrimental to our heritage to lose one of our oldest institutions," Mr Henderson said.

"Exploiting the name of Savile Row to attract high-paying retailers at the cost of a world-esteemed industry is short-sighted."

Although the tailors are competitive, they share ancillary services such as cloth and button merchants. They also say that training is easier if the stores are together: it takes so long to train cutters, around five years, that trainees are sometimes passed around the street.

The tailors have appealed to Westminster city council to protect them against rising rents and the threat from retail developers.

The council has promised to do so by creating a strategic group of tailors and landowners, by reviewing its planning policy and supporting the training of new tailors.

Angela Hooper, the chairman of the planning committee, said: "Savile Row has a reputation for excellence that many others in the clothing industry can only dream about and we want to make sure it stays that way."


Active Member
Mar 10, 2006
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What I wouldn't give for a hi-res pic of the huge line of tailors angrily waving their shears! The perfect desktop background.


Distinguished Member
Mar 9, 2006
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I don't even like suits and formalwear, but I'd prefer a Savile Row as it is over a Savile Row lined with Abercrombie.


Senior Member
Mar 10, 2006
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Originally Posted by whoopee
I wish I could've joined them.

We are having a protest for Raphael,if you would like to join.

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