By and  on November 30, 2005

LONDON — Abercrombie & Fitch will make its European debut with a bang, on Savile Row.

Industry sources here say the American retailer will move into the Jil Sander flagship at 7 Burlington Gardens, on the corner of Savile Row.

A spokesman for Abercrombie declined to comment Tuesday. A spokesman for Prada Group confirmed Jil Sander's London unit would be relocated next year, and said details would be released in due time.

The legendary Savile Row in Mayfair is synonymous with bespoke tailoring, top-flight customer service and posh English gentlemen.

Tailors on the street include Richard James, Ozwald Boateng, Kilgour, H. Huntsman & Sons and longtime couturier to Queen Elizabeth II Hardy Amies.

Abercrombie has big plans to expand in Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America. The company has said the first European stores would open at the end of 2006, although sources here say the London store could open as early as the spring.

The 10,000-square-foot Jil Sander store opened in early 2002. The site, built in 1721, was originally a residence for the Earl of Damley. It was later used by the Bank of England and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The American architect Michael Gabellini undertook a complete, historical restoration of the London building on behalf of Jil Sander, which took at least a year, and the result is an airy, white space with soaring ceilings.

Although news of the opening has not been confirmed, Savile Row tailors are already abuzz with talk of the American store's arrival.

"Abercrombie & Fitch is coming to the Row — and I think it's great," said Brian Lishak of Richard Anderson Ltd., a bespoke tailor on the street. "It's important that Savile Row is international. And it's all part of the rebirth of a famous old street."

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