Savile Row tailors' worst fears have surely been realised with this latest PR stunt, in which a group of topless chubby men descended on Abercrombie & Fitch to stitch up the semi-naked models standing outside.
The London street, which is globally renowned for heritage tailors such as Edward Sexton, Hardy Amies, Kilgour, Henry Poole, and Gieves & Hawkes, has in the past few years been shaken by concerns that an influx of brands such as A&F, famed for hiring topless (male) models instead of shop assistants, could lower the tone of the neighbourhood.
So the “flab-a-crombie” stunt, part of a campaign promoting the release of Zac Efron and Seth Rogen DVD Bad Neighbours, will presumably have gone down like a sweat-shop produced onesie.
Although the mainline A&F store is actually just around the corner on Burlington Gardens, the press release claims that the "daring group" created "mayhem" on the street with shoppers "left in total amazement".
Perhaps not quite the way to impress A&F's more traditional neighbours, who were already irked by the opening of the US brand's first UK kidswear-only store at 3 Savile Row less than a fortnight ago.
Prior to the PR stunt, Edward Sexton, founder of the eponymous tailor, had told trade title Drapers:
I fear more big businesses like Abercrombie – that have no link to Savile Row and are only using it to boost their credibility – will move onto the street, as they are the only ones that can afford the rent.
Philip Parker, vice president of Henry Poole, agreed:
[Abercrombie] shouldn’t have been given the site in the first place. It’s ridiculous.
In what now feels like an appeal that fell on deaf ears, William Skinner, managing director of Dege & Skinner, said:
We hope they understand the history of the area and will carry on and uphold the traditions of Savile Row. Alexander McQueen moving into the area [in 2012] has been very good for business, as it attracted a new type of customer.Abercrombie Kids [whose building is not owned by the Pollen Estate], on the other hand, doesn’t fit in. It would have been better on Regent Street or Oxford Street.
We're curious to see what these erstwhile harbingers of taste made of this "social experiment", and whether it seems to be upholding the traditions of the venerable street...