SAVILE RULES: Westminster Council plans to safeguard Savile Row and other historic London neighborhoods with new measures to keep large chain stores and inappropriate tenants at bay.
According to planning policies put in place this week, any business wanting to move onto Savile Row will only be able to use two floors for retail, while tailors’ workrooms, traditionally located in the basement of the buildings, cannot be removed or re-purposed.
Savile Row — and its surrounding streets — have always been designated for use by offices, restaurants and retail, but in the past there were few measures in place to prevent chains or larger retailers from moving into the neighborhood.
Now businesses that move onto the street will have to sell bespoke, unique, limited-edition or one-of-a-kind products and must be “complementary to the character and function of the zone.”
In 2007, there was outcry from local traders when Abercrombie & Fitch opened a flagship at the corner of Savile Row and Burlington Gardens. It’s more about polos and bikinis than bespoke suits and draws a far different crowd than the Row is accustomed to seeing.
Since then, however, there have been no major upsets on the street, which also counts a variety of high-end businesses, including shoemakers Gaziano and Girling, Hauser & Wirth art gallery and the Italian restaurant Sartoria.
Mark Henderson, chairman of Gieves & Hawkes and London Luxury Quarter, and founder of the Savile Row Bespoke Association, said it’s only right that the tailors’ workrooms should be recognized as “something special.”
He added that Savile Row remains a dynamic place: Over the past seven years 62 apprentices have been trained, while the softening of the pound and renewed interest in British craftsmanship mean Savile Row tailors should be getting an extra boost right now.
“It’s a promising time for Savile Row and the (property owners) the Pollen Estate, are very forward-looking and professionally managed,” he said.
Savile Row isn’t the only neighborhood to benefit from new planning protection measures. Harley Street, the traditional hub of the medical profession; Mayfair, with its art galleries and high-end shops, and St. James’s, which also specializes in bespoke men’s wear, are also subject to the new rules.