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The Siege of Savile Row
April 24, 2012 3:43 AM   Subscribe

Chap Magazine (manifesto here) has staged a protest outside the proposed location of an Abercrombie & Fitch store on Savile Row in London.

Flickr album of protest.

BBC on Savile Row.

Savile Row, previously on MeFi.

BONUS: Suite Price Inflation
posted by the man of twists and turns (54 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hipsters gonna hate.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:46 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is hilarious.

Also, I'm pretty sure I spotted Mr.B in that crowd.
posted by pharm at 3:54 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


THOU SHALLT ALWAYS WEAR TWEED

Punchability: achieved.
posted by mhoye at 3:55 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Twee Tweed Twits Tweet Toward Twitchy Twats

or:

Pissed Brits Pitch Bitch-Fit Betwixt Rich Kitsch Britch-Pitchers Fitch (and Ambercrombie)

(I'll leave "Savvy Saville Savages Stage Salvo" to someone else)
posted by ShutterBun at 4:09 AM on April 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


"Cheese it-- the cops! TAXI!"
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:12 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The person sporting a banjolele in the first photo is Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer. (previously, previously, and previously! :)
posted by honest knave at 4:15 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tweed, in the city?! Good heavens! Off with their heads. They need to learn how to dress properly!
posted by Goofyy at 4:21 AM on April 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


I really want to like Chap magazine, as I find the whole idea gloriously silly and think that there's a lot of fun to be had with all the ironic/retro business of grey pinstripes, trilbies, amusing facial hair and so on. But I just can't do it, because along with all that wonderful stuff, they have in their Manifesto:

3 THOU SHALT ALWAYS BE COURTEOUS TO THE LADIES. A gentleman is never truly seated on an omnibus or railway carriage: he is merely keeping the seat warm for when a lady might need it. Those who take offence at being offered a seat are not really Ladies.

Which creeps me out too much to easily ignore. They could so easily kill the last sentence (because what upstanding gent wants to feel that he's forcing someone to accept a favour?) and make the second about need rather than gender, but for some reason they've chosen to phrase it this way. Bring back the stylish hats, amusing vocabulary and swingin' music, but leave the sexism in the grave where it belongs.
posted by metaBugs at 4:34 AM on April 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


If they were truly upstanding, there'd be a lot more empty seats on the bus.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:39 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are many legitimate reasons to protest an A&E; did they have to pick snobbery?
posted by londonmark at 4:42 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's an interesting problem with the retro-chap stuff: you get it with Steampunk, as well, of course. The problem being that much of the era from which they took their aesthetic is also politically pretty iffy - not just in terms of gender, but also race and class.

(Of course, that applies to basically most of recorded time - Mad Men wrestles with some of the same issues...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:43 AM on April 24, 2012


They need to have Mr. B come play for their rally.
posted by Balok at 4:43 AM on April 24, 2012


I take it back! Mr. B was there already!
posted by Balok at 4:44 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


F of course, I meant F...
posted by londonmark at 4:46 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really want to like Chap magazine, as I find the whole idea gloriously silly and think that there's a lot of fun to be had with all the ironic/retro business of grey pinstripes, trilbies, amusing facial hair and so on. But I just can't do it, because along with all that wonderful stuff, they have in their Manifesto:

3 THOU SHALT ALWAYS BE COURTEOUS TO THE LADIES. A gentleman is never truly seated on an omnibus or railway carriage: he is merely keeping the seat warm for when a lady might need it. Those who take offence at being offered a seat are not really Ladies.


posted by metaBugs at 12:34 PM on April 24

Yeah, that whole irony thing? You're still not getting it.
posted by Decani at 4:56 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's cute (in ways good and bad), but they actually do draw attention to the fact that independent businesses are being shut out by enormous retailers such as A&E in many British towns. This changes the feel of a place for the worse, in my opinion.
posted by Concordia at 5:03 AM on April 24, 2012


Yeah, that whole irony thing? You're still not getting it.

But how can I wear my politics on my sleeve if I can't find things to get offended about? I've based my entire persona on how righteous and sensitive I am, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to strip that from me!
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:04 AM on April 24, 2012


I've based my entire persona on how righteous and sensitive I am, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to strip that from me!

This is not the response that point deserved. Cosplayers (and these are cosplayers, make no mistake about it) of every stripe get to pick and choose, and bringing back the social baggage of the era that metaBugs observed for no better reason than some lulz is a bad choice.

"It's ironic" is a bullshit excuse for a lot of bad behavior.
posted by mhoye at 5:17 AM on April 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


So this is like a movement or something? Not just another bunch of bored boneheads dressing up in costumes?
posted by jonmc at 5:22 AM on April 24, 2012


Decani, Mayor Curley: You do realise that by running around in a frenzied circle, barking frantically, every time you detect a sign of the oversensitivity that so upsets you, you look super sensitive, right? I mean, I realise that every highly-strung chow has basically the same instincts as its noble lupine ancestors, but you are kind of representing the carried-around-in-a-handbag end of the howling spectrum.

Ontopic: as a historical curiosity, 3 Saville Row - the address A&F wants to turn into a children's store - was once the headquarters of Apple Corps, and was the location of the Beatles' last performance. Whether that makes it better for it to be surrounded by old-school tailors or expensive designer kids' clothing, I know not.

Saville Row has already adjusted to changing times somewhat - 10 years ago, similar complaints were being made about celebrity tailors like Richard James, Oswald Boateng and Timothy Everest, and also by lower-cost providers like 40 Saville Row (more machine cutting and stitching, and thus much lower prices). There's a question here about the market, really - if there was sufficient demand for hand-tailored bespoke suits to fill a whole street, it would be less of an issue, but Saville Row has been ceding ground for some time. This would be the first actual chainstore, though, which does feel like something of a shift...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:29 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Yeah, let's just let people make their observations on the actual post subject. If your main contribution is supersaturated sarcasm about how someone else's thoughts aren't exactly like your thoughts, try to remember that this is not the point of the thread or the site. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 5:38 AM on April 24, 2012


THOU SHALT ALWAYS CULTIVATE INTERESTING FACIAL HAIR

Please, people, no. Your facial hair should never be "interesting." If your mustache is shouting, I cannot hear what you have to say (or, usually, see the rest of your face).

Also, the all-caps thing? This is the 21st C. Since you clearly can use the bold tag, you should be able to apply it gracefully throughout your manifesto.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:44 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I tend to see all this retro-menswear business as a sign of economic polarization. Almost none of the people who advocate it ever address the fact that suits and proper shoes are out of the economic reach of most men. They'll do a little hand-waving about how you can get a J Crew suit for $250 if you wait for the sale and luck out, and you can get a very nice pair of gently used shoes for $100 on Ebay or whatever, but they never address the fact that for most men in the United States (and most men in the United States are not white collar) $350 has to cover the whole wardrobe, not just one day's worth.

The only way it makes sense to advocate for floating canvas and hand-lasting is as a marker of elite status - unless you're talking about meaningful economic change, which these folks are not. (I know whereof I speak, by the way, because I read men's style blogs and magazines far too much - these folks idolize the British aristocracy and various unsavory American political figures for both financial and sartorial reasons.)

All this about how terrible and vulgar chain stores are - these folks aren't really talking about replacing chain stores, or getting everyone into properly fitting shoes. They're talking about keeping poor people clothes in their place, and everyone recognizing that the only way to dress nicely is the rich people way.

It's also amusing that they repeatedly point to, say, the early twentieth century when even the working man wore a suit of sorts. Those suits were sneered at like anything by the well-off - all you have to do is read a little Dorothy Sayers or Margery Allingham for a sample.

If Joe Proletariat started wearing suits and pocket squares, the Chaps and their ilk would just find some other sort of social marker.

It's a pity, because I do love benchmade shoes.
posted by Frowner at 6:10 AM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


If Joe Proletariat started wearing suits and pocket squares, the Chaps and their ilk would just find some other sort of social marker.

That's interesting, and might be related to the earlier thread on Etsy. A lot of the things that used to be status symbols - trinkets, cellphones, and so forth - has been well commodified, and aren't effective status differentiators anymore. Things that can get manufactured on assembly lines will eventually become cheap, and if you don't want to be associated with cheap you have to buy things that can't be manufactured on assembly lines.

I wonder if that's part of what Etsy's really about - "I can afford unique handmade things."
posted by mhoye at 6:37 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


For some reason, my brain is telling me that there was a gay porn magazine in the 1990s called Chaps Magazine. I can't find any evidence to support this online, but that memory (false or not) did make me do a double-take while reading this post on the front page of the Blue.
posted by hippybear at 6:49 AM on April 24, 2012


Well, etsy is also often very _cheap_ - but a proper Savile Row bespoke suit, we're talking $3,000 or up. One problem Savile Row's traditional industries have is essentially globalisation: you can get a handmade suit for far less using, say, Chinese labor to put it together. Or you can get other expensive items of clothing that cost far less to make, like Abercrombie & Fitch - and hand-made is less of a value add when there are so many variations in shape in machine-made clothing. So, wealthy people have far more options about where to go to get suits (both European and non-European), and I suspect that the real cost of a Savile Row suit has actually gone up, relative to the general market cost of staying clothed...

But yes - certainly a Savile Row suit is an investment not just in keeping your legs warm but also in demonstrating that you can afford a Savile Row suit. A comparable thing might be the Vertu line of phones - although a Savile Row suit would be both cheaper and, I would hazard, more useful.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:51 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that a different kind of chaps, dude.
posted by jonmc at 6:52 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


my brain is telling me that there was a gay porn magazine in the 1990s called Chaps Magazine

I would buy tickets to that protest.
posted by londonmark at 6:52 AM on April 24, 2012


There are many legitimate reasons to protest an A&E

F of course, I meant F...


I find there is much to protest about A&E. I mean, have you SEEN their lineup?
posted by hippybear at 6:52 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's easy to stage a flash mob in Savile Row when your club is in Pall Mall. It's just a brisk stroll away. There's barely time to get the swing of your umbrella right and you're there.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:59 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


but they never address the fact that for most men in the United States (and most men in the United States are not white collar) $350 has to cover the whole wardrobe, not just one day's worth.

A suit and shoes are not one day's worth of clothes, because it's quite acceptable for a man to wear the same suit on a regular basis. I'd have to see some evidence that $350 is the average annual clothes budget for most men in the US, because I am constantly surprised at how much money people spend on casual clothing.

It's also amusing that they repeatedly point to, say, the early twentieth century when even the working man wore a suit of sorts. Those suits were sneered at like anything by the well-off - all you have to do is read a little Dorothy Sayers or Margery Allingham for a sample.

People will always find something to sneer about, whether it's the quality of someone's suit or flip-flops or saggy pants. You can put everyone in Mao jackets and mandate the same hairstyle and people will just find something else to pick on each other about. Mandate economic equality, as has been tried in some communist societies, and you just just get political snobbery instead, sometimes with consequences that are no less deadly than under capitalism. It's human nature for people to try and one-up each other.

It's a pity, because I do love benchmade shoes.

Then just get a pair and stop whingeing about it. You're only mentioning it to signal your good taste, and the idea that you're too noble to allow yourself a pair until the entire proletariat has had its consciousness raised is just wank.

I personally am heartily in favor of sartorial snobbery if it means a halt in people wandering around in public wearing pyjamas and slippers - I don't really care whether they're too lazy to get dressed or doing so for ironic effect.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:02 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


People will always find something to sneer about...

I personally am heartily in favor of sartorial snobbery if it means a halt in people wandering around in public wearing pyjamas and slippers - I don't really care whether they're too lazy to get dressed or doing so for ironic effect.


I can't tell if you did this in a single comment because you were lazy or for ironic effect.
posted by hippybear at 7:07 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find there is much to protest about A&E. I mean, have you SEEN their lineup?

Do they make the Client List? Because that is my new favourite show.
posted by londonmark at 7:07 AM on April 24, 2012


I can't tell if you did this in a single comment because you were lazy or for ironic effect.


I'm not pretending to be above having opinions on what people wear.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:09 AM on April 24, 2012


A suit and shoes are not one day's worth of clothes, because it's quite acceptable for a man to wear the same suit on a regular basis.

That said, if you think that the suits we are talking about here are $250, you probably haven't bought a proper suit lately. Tom Mahon of the English Cut blog, asked what one can get on Savile Row for $250, suggests dinner at Sartoria - because it's not going to get you anything more than that.

Also worth noting that the readers of The Chap, and I would imagine most of the people it brought to this protest, are not the market for Savile Row suits - they are a mix of cosplayers, kitsch enthusiasts, nostalgists and fetishists. British hipsters, broadly: fans, but not consumers.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:25 AM on April 24, 2012


Then just get a pair and stop whingeing about it. You're only mentioning it to signal your good taste, and the idea that you're too noble to allow yourself a pair until the entire proletariat has had its consciousness raised is just wank.

Even as we type, I am wearing benchmade shoes. Admittedly, they're lightly used via Ebay, but lord, they weren't cheap. I have no intention of waiting on the revolution for comfortable, durable footwear. Can't imagine stumping up for a bespoke suit, but that has as much to do with gender, gender presentation and employment as cash.

(How would I know to love benchmade shoes if I didn't have any? I never appreciated the difference until I got a pair.)

People will always find something to sneer about

Why yes, they will. But frankly those sneers don't have much power when everyone is roughly equal. (As they were not, by the way, under Maoism.) Flatten the social and economic hierarchy, and clothing sneers turn into hippies-versus-punks instead of bosses-versus-proles. Anyone can sneer at me all day for being a preppie if it makes their heart glad, since those sneers don't translate into actual social power.
posted by Frowner at 7:58 AM on April 24, 2012


and the idea that you're too noble to allow yourself a pair

Taken completely out of context, this is awesome. Next time someone suggests I grow a pair, I'm going to say I'm too noble to allow myself one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:30 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


That said, if you think that the suits we are talking about here are $250, you probably haven't bought a proper suit lately. Tom Mahon of the English Cut blog, asked what one can get on Savile Row for $250, suggests dinner at Sartoria - because it's not going to get you anything more than that.

Well, it was another poster who introduced that number. You can't get much more than a shirt or a tie on Savile Row for that amount, but the original context for the number was the idea of waiting for a sale to buy a J Crew suit, which would be quite a nice choice.

Why yes, they will. But frankly those sneers don't have much power when everyone is roughly equal. (As they were not, by the way, under Maoism.)

When have people anywhere ever been 'roughly equal'? You're going to have economic or political power disparities anyway as the natural by-products of age and ability. They may be greater or lesser than the average, but they're not going away any time soon.The point of mentioning Maoism was that officially the economic hierarchy had been abolished; in practice it had just been replaced by a political one.

Flatten the social and economic hierarchy, and clothing sneers turn into hippies-versus-punks instead of bosses-versus-proles.

I fail to see how this in any way constitutes an improvement.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:04 AM on April 24, 2012


Then just get a pair and stop whingeing about it. You're only mentioning it to signal your good taste, and the idea that you're too noble to allow yourself a pair until the entire proletariat has had its consciousness raised is just wank.

Yet another demonstration of how you can be an asshole here, you just can't call anyone an asshole here.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:29 AM on April 24, 2012


You can't get much more than a shirt or a tie on Savile Row for that amount

If you're going to Savile Row for shirts, I just don't know what to say to you. Jermyn Street, man.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:38 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]



When have people anywhere ever been 'roughly equal'? You're going to have economic or political power disparities anyway as the natural by-products of age and ability. They may be greater or lesser than the average, but they're not going away any time soon.The point of mentioning Maoism was that officially the economic hierarchy had been abolished; in practice it had just been replaced by a political one.


To my mind, Finland (I have a Finnish friend who grew up in the Finnish version of the working class, so I have some realistic picture here) is a "good-enough" roughly equal society. It's not "equal" in the straw-marxist sense where everyone has exactly the same things/ambitions/clothes, but the social and economic hierarchies are comparatively flat and there's much less social vulnerability than in the US, the former Soviet Union, etc. I'd argue that the social democracies between about 1950 and 1985 were generally "good enough" on this score too.

In fact, there's actually some sartorial evidence to bear out my point - the sixties were the heyday of mod and of actual bespoke suits for the common man/shop assistant in the UK. Admittedly, those suits took some saving and pinching by people who really cared about clothes, but they'd be flat impossible now. I'd prefer a financial hierarchy flatter than that of the UK in the sixties, but it was a damn sight better than what we've got here today in the US, for example.

I don't really understand this attachment to both "nice clothes are the best thing and it's very important for platonic-aesthetic-moral reasons to dress properly" and "social inequality, hurrah!". It seems to need to be one or the other but not both - either people should dress according to their means and their means may well run only to cargo pants and glued shoes and we should stop being mean about it, OR steps should be taken such that people have a shot at affording the comfortable, durable clothes that the clothes snobs are on about. If we want to say both that dressing well is a virtue AND that it's okay to have society so organized that most people can never possess that virtue, that's just nasty feudal snobbism and pleasure in the flaunting of wealth.

I mention my own clothes, by the way, because so often criticisms of men's style snobbery are dismissed precisely because they come from people in cargo shorts and glued shoes.
posted by Frowner at 9:43 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not that there's any thing wrong with cargo shorts and glued shoes.
posted by jonmc at 10:09 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Savile Row has always been a bastion of reactionary aesthetics: I can't remember where I read this, but there were similar levels of grouching when a rather louche young entrepreneur opened up a storefront on savile row which had a (!!) window display complete with mannequins and (gasp!) prices.

I can't imagine that the now-extinct country gentry who used to travel to London to get their suits made before retreating to the South downs would highly approve of picketing as a means of political expression, but I suppose this is ultimately about aesthetics, not principles.

sigh.
posted by anewnadir at 10:14 AM on April 24, 2012


Ah, here we go: it was Tommy Nutter:
Before Nutters [Savile Row] was an exclusive, closed-off world. They didn’t even have window displays. Though, of course, the rest of the row looked upon him as an upstart whose shop was on the wrong side of the street.
posted by anewnadir at 10:17 AM on April 24, 2012


Fun fact: Tommy Nutter also designed the outfits for Jack Nicholson's Joker in the first Tim Burton Batman.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:29 AM on April 24, 2012


Anybody who thinks you can't dress well inexpensively (for the value of "well" meaning "in traditional American menswear") should check out An Affordable Wardrobe. IIRC, Giuseppe started his blog in response to the insanity that is the bespoke-laden A Suitable Wardrobe, and he not only manages to dress well and appropriately for his life, but does it mostly through secondhand purchases. Now, he has the benefit of being in New England, where there's undoubtedly more good vintage menswear going through the thrifts than some other parts of the country, but he's very helpful in terms of explaining all sorts of menswear concepts, showing how he accomplishes what he does, and how to successfully put both outfits and a wardrobe together.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:42 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why do people try to make it into a political argument every time menswear comes up on this site? I know you think your ugly clothes are your way of sticking it to the man, but can’t that be done quietly? The fact that it’s not makes me suspect that you don’t really believe it.
posted by bongo_x at 11:54 AM on April 24, 2012


I tend to see all this retro-menswear business as a sign of economic polarization. Almost none of the people who advocate it ever address the fact that suits and proper shoes are out of the economic reach of most men.

Clothes used to be more expensive. The difference is we now have closets full of cheap crap, where in the past most people would have very small wardrobes. When you look at old pictures, even guys being arrested for public drunkenness had suits, but it was probably their only suit, and their only pair of shoes.

I was struck by something a woman wrote about her mom saving for a coat when she was younger (I don’t know the details, I wish I had the kind of memory that worked). She worked at a middle class job and the coat ended up being months worth of salary. I can’t imagine that happens as much today.
posted by bongo_x at 12:03 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


To my mind, Finland (I have a Finnish friend who grew up in the Finnish version of the working class, so I have some realistic picture here) is a "good-enough" roughly equal society. [..] I'd argue that the social democracies between about 1950 and 1985 were generally "good enough" on this score too.

OK, I see where you're coming from. However, I think you're overlooking the fact taht post-WW2 economies are rather a special case because of an overweening economic advantage for the US plus the Marshall plan; and further, that much of the prosperity in those economies was built with things like tariffs that were designed to exclude goods from less developed countries, leaving them stuck in grinding poverty. Since the advent of globalization, absolute poverty has dropped drastically on a global level, which strikes me as a distinct win.

In fact, there's actually some sartorial evidence to bear out my point - the sixties were the heyday of mod and of actual bespoke suits for the common man/shop assistant in the UK. Admittedly, those suits took some saving and pinching by people who really cared about clothes, but they'd be flat impossible now.

This doesn't bear your point out as well as you think. First, off-the-peg clothes are of much better quality than they used to be, and a much wider range is available, due to both technology (more consistent quality of textiles and sewing, as well as optimized supply chains) and globalization (greater range of suppliers). This reduces demand for bespoke tailoring, as has the increase in sartorial diversity and a loosening of standards about what is considered presentable for the workplace or business. Finally, if you do want bespoke tailoring, then there are more options available for that too - I've known several people who order fabric from Italy and then get suits made in Hong Kong. Of course it would be terribly expensive to go to HK just to get a suit, but if you're going there anyway for business/ holiday/ family then the marginal cost of having a suit or suits made to order is way lower. So if demand for your product (bespoke suits) is in decline, and the marginal costs are staying about the same or going up, because traditional bespoke tailoring is quite labor intensive, then the only logical thing to do is raise your prices and compete on quality, or exit the market.

I don't really understand this attachment to both "nice clothes are the best thing and it's very important for platonic-aesthetic-moral reasons to dress properly" and "social inequality, hurrah!".

I don't think that there is such a link, but rather that you're projecting your political viewpoint onto a space where those concepts overlap slightly. I think it would be more accurate to reframe the first position as 'nice clothes are my favorite thing and it's very important to me to dress in such a style.' Protesters in this case are not so much decrying the existence of Abercrombie and Fitch as its intrusion on one of the few remaining oases of traditional English tailoring. It's like complaining that you can't get a nice afternoon tea anywhere because they're being crowded out by chains like Starbucks; afternoon tea and the consumption of tea itself do certainly have roots in class and colonialism, but that was a really long time ago and since then enjoyment of tea and scones has become available to pretty much everyone, to the point of becoming old-fashioned. However, the fact of liking something that's a bit old-fashioned is not the same as an affirmation of past class structures or of colonialism. Irish people drink more tea than anyone else, and at this stage even the most die-hard Irish Republicans are indifferent to the fact that we picked it up from the English.

As for 'social inequality, hurrah!', observing that something is natural or inevitable to some degree is not the same as wanting to exacerbate or maintain it. I see it as an unavoidable fact, in much the same way that there's a small number of whales and a large number of sardines. What I see with outlets like the Chaps is not so much that they are celebrating social inequality of the past, as celebrating some of the ancillaries that went with it - an accessible and well-understood sartorial framework, widespread expectations of good manners and so on. Formality (of address, say) isn't exclusive if everyone can participate in it; as things are informality has become so much the norm that being on first-name terms with someone doesn't provide a sense of intimacy any more. As a European person living in the US, I often find it tiring to be on first-name terms with everyone 30 seconds after I've met them because I'm not terribly good at small talk.

either people should dress according to their means and their means may well run only to cargo pants and glued shoes and we should stop being mean about it

Well, I don't know exactly which clothes you wear or where you get them, but this protest was about the opening of an Abercrombie and Fitch store. First of all, their clothes don't seem especially cheap; second, they certainly are not marketed that way. When I go to the A&F website I'm offered things like 'privileged prep' which doesn't exactly strike me as an attempt to be economically inclusive. If the protestors were objecting to the opening of a branch of H&M or Top Shop or some other 'bargain' chain I'd see your point, but A&F positions itself as 'casual luxury' - witness the recent attempt to pay a Jersey Shore cast member to stop wearing the brand.

On A&F's website, they talk about having made fine clothes for over 100 years. but they haven't; the company that owns A&F, Limited Brands, bought the trademark at auction after a previous buyer failed to make a success of it. By contrast, most of the firms on Savile Row actually do have a long-standing commercial heritage, and it's not unreasonable to want to preserve that as both a cultural artifact and as a collectively-owned brand that stands for something of value, like a restricted designation for food or wine that acts as guarantee of quality.

In reference to the earlier discussion of the $250 suit, there are quite a few used Savile Row suits to be found on eBay, at prices ranging from the affordable to the astronomical. I'm much slimmer than average so the selection for me isn't the best, but I see at least one suit in excellent condition for $240 + $20 shipping, which would be a pretty sweet deal even with some alterations added on.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:35 PM on April 24, 2012


Clothes didn't used to be so flimsy either. Women's clothes in particular, per my wife, basically fall apart after a ridiculously small number of wearings. Men's clothes are not quite so far gone, but they're nothing like what they used to be.

A suit used to cost a guy a small fortune, but two or three would last him for years. Maybe you can can get a presentable suit now for $300 (though you'd look visibly of place where the $3000+ suits hang out), but don't crouch down in it to hug your toddler in it before you leave for work in it too many times or the knees will bag out permanently.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:37 PM on April 24, 2012


Why do people try to make it into a political argument every time menswear comes up on this site? I know you think your ugly clothes are your way of sticking it to the man, but can’t that be done quietly?

This runs both ways. It also isn't necessary to be a prick because you fear that someone's disinterest in clothes is signal of superiority. And I say that as someone who does like good clothes and who would happily spend even more than I do if I could.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:37 PM on April 24, 2012


It also isn't necessary to be a prick because you fear that someone's disinterest in clothes is signal of superiority

When I run into someone wearing their pajamas in public, my only fear is that they may be drunk.high. I'm not talking about people popping out to collect the mail.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:56 PM on April 24, 2012


Like others upthread, I want to get behind The Chap thing, but there's also something about 'the good old days' nostalgia and the idea of 'authenticity' that makes my teeth itch. I see it as another step down the road as the bloke from The Idler, who writes books about how living as the medieval folk did was brilliant and how we should rent out our inheritance-bought London houses so we can live in a massive farm, grow our own veg and home-educate our kids. If I'd lived in medieval times, I'd already have died after giving birth to my sixteenth child.

As a 5ft 10 lady with big feet, I appreciate that chain stores are doing reproductions of vintage styles, as the real stuff doesn't come in my size and the reproduction companies are extremely expensive (one day I will buy a Whirling Turban dress, though). I'm thirty - I don't really care if people want to queue up to spend £50 on an ill-fitting T-shirt. We're not at school.

Handmade clothing is very expensive, and so too these days is vintage (even charity shops have a 'vintage' or 'retro' rail now).
posted by mippy at 2:10 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Handmade clothing is very expensive, and so too these days is vintage (even charity shops have a 'vintage' or 'retro' rail now).

Yeah, but the thing about high quality handmade clothing is... it survives to become vintage. If an article is made correctly, with thought given to the quality of the fabrics used, how the bias of the fabric fits together, what kind of thread is used for the stitching and what kind of stitching is used, and all those other little details that go into truly quality tailored clothing (whether it be a linen shirt or a tweed suit or whatever)... That article will likely still be in Very Good Condition three or four generations down the line.

I can't count how many shirts or other clothing articles I've bought over the years which, even when I've followed the care instructions to the letter, end up basically falling apart after a year or three. Or if they don't fall apart, they lose their shape and take on an attitude of rumpled rather than crisp. An attitude change which, because it's happening at a structural level in the garment, can't be fixed with a good starching or whatever.

Of course, not all handmade garments are made to that level of artistry. But the ones that are... they'll be around for a very long time.
posted by hippybear at 1:37 PM on April 25, 2012


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