We all knew nothing good could come out of Abercombie & Fitch opening up on London’s Savile Row. The two just aren’t natural bed fellows.The Row is the centre of English bespoke tailoring, where customers travel from across the globe to source beautiful, hand crafted suits costing as much as £5000. Abercrombie & Fitch sell £50 tracksuits bottoms and hoodies. Customers are often greeted by a parade of topless in-store male models. Now the American retail giant has done the unthinkable and ignored instructions not to carry out work on the Grade II-listed building in Savile Row that it occupies.
AFH Stores UK Limited, a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch Europe SA and Castletech Construction Ltd, breached planning laws by renovating the new Abercrombie Kids store at No.3 Savile Row.The building was formerly the base of Apple Corps, the business set up by The Beatles and the scene of their historic impromptu 1969 gig that would be their final public performance. A planning condition for the new fashion store required that: “No internal decoration shall take place in the ground and first-floor front rooms until a paint specification and colour scheme has been submitted to the local planning authority and approved in writing. The approved specification and colour scheme shall be implemented and retained as such.” However, Abercrombie & Fitch failed to obtain approval for a new colour scheme and a council officer visiting the building last March discovered unauthorised and inappropriate redecoration had taken place, contrary to the condition.
The defendants plead guilty, acknowledging they had acted in the full knowledge that the work was not permitted. The total of the fines and costs awarded against the defendants was nearly £16,000.
Cllr Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said after the hearing: “Heritage is the number one factor that makes Westminster what it is today, so the council will seek to protect it wherever we can. The history and features of this building, including the famous Beatles rooftop concert, need to be respected, as does the heritage of Savile Row itself.”
We hardly think a £16,000 will do much to deter multi billion dollar companies like Abercrombie & Fitch. Is this the end of Westminster as we know it?