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By Raffaella Tomassi
By Raffaella Tomassi
From Saturday’s ‘Peddle for Action’ to Occupy London’s camp outside Saint Paul’s, protests in central London have come to be seen as nothing new. However, recently, there has also been rather a different kind of protest going on which has been rocking the fashion world: the rather more dapper ‘Give three-piece a chance’ movement, organised by The Chap magazine. This has arisen in light of the news that Abercrombie and Fitch, the marmite of high street chain stores, is intending to open up a children’s wear store on Saville Row, a street more renowned for high end bespoke gentlemen’s tailors than mass produced branded hoodies and polo shirts. These well dressed gentlemen are protesting against the fact that Abercrombie’s encroachment onto the historic street will not only result in a loss of its essential character, but will in fact lower its tone, with one anonymous tailor reporting to The Guardian that ”I don’t think anyone objects to moving forward, but a chain store selling crappy clothes to ghastly people isn’t really the direction in which we should be travelling.”
My objection to this development, however, isn’t thus. Oxford is an excellent example of how popular shops such as Jack Wills can sit beside the more traditional gentlemen’s outfitters of Turl Street without the reputation of either being damaged, rather creating a situation whereby the widest possible range of tastes are catered for, which is surely what we want for our high streets in difficult economic times such as these. Is it not better to give the people what they want than see shops boarded up or filled with temporary stores selling plastic handbags and diamante phone cases, here one week, gone the next? No, my objection is to Abercrombie and Fitch itself.
To begin with (cue the initial signs that I may be getting old), why can’t Abercrombie turn the music down and the lights up? Furthermore, I like to come out of a shop smelling the same as when I went in, rather than of the particular brand of perfume they pump around the stores (which for some unbeknown reason gives me a blinding headache). However, I do acknowledge that this is due in part to my personal tastes: Abercrombie is a phenomenally successful brand, so it must be doing something right, attracting people from across the country, and in fact world, to its flagship stores.
Its children’s clothes, on the other hand, are a completely different story. A quick look on the website reveals to me that a current trend for girls is ‘Summer Legs’, a section which brings together all the items of clothing inappropriately short in length for what must be an age range of 10-15 years old. This isn’t the worst of it, in 2011 the company was slated for selling padded children’s bikini tops, not to mentions 2002’s controversy over the children’s thong. Saville Row may be wrong in trying to fight the forces of change, but in attempting to reject the encroachment a shop which aids and abets the process of sexualising young girls it is surely doing us all a favour.