Wednesday, 26 January 2022

The Fall of Abercrombie And Fitch / Can Abercrombie And Fitch Make A Comeback? / History of Abercrombie & Fitch


SEE also de two following posts below

History of Abercrombie & Fitch

The Founders of Abercrombie & Fitch

 


David T. Abercrombie

 


Ezra Fitch

The history of Abercrombie & Fitch began in the nineteenth century and extends into the twenty-first century. Key figures who changed and influenced the course of Abercrombie & Fitch's history include co-founders David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, Limited Brands and Michael Jeffries, the former Chairman and CEO.

 

David Abercrombie founded A&F in 1892 as an upscale sporting goods store. Forming a partnership with Ezra Fitch, the company continued to expand in the new 20th century. After Abercrombie left the company, Fitch became sole owner and ushered in the "Fitch Years" of continued success. Shortly after his retirement, the company continued to develop under a succession of other leaders until its financial fall and closing in 1977. Limited Brands purchased the ailing brand in 1988 and brought in Mike Jeffries, who revolutionized the image of Abercrombie & Fitch to become an upscale youthful fashion retailer.

 

The company was originally established as Abercrombie Co. by David Abercrombie on June 4, 1892, in a small waterfront shop at 36 South Street in downtown Manhattan, New York. Wealthy New York businessman Ezra Fitch became one of the store's regular customers. In 1900, Fitch bought a major share in the growing Abercrombie Company and thus joined as co-founder. Aberr 2010}}

 

The partnership between Abercrombie and Fitch did not end happily. The two men, with different visions for the future of A&F, quarreled frequently, although the company continued to prosper. Fitch wished to expand the company's appeal to the general public, while Abercrombie wanted to continue selling professional gear to professional outdoorsmen. As a result of the disagreement, Abercrombie sold his share in the company to Fitch in 1907 and returned to manufacturing outdoor goods. Fitch continued the business with other partners and directed the company as he pleased.

 

The Fitch years

In 1909, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. mailed over 50,000 copies of its 456-page catalog worldwide (a staggering and costly amount of publication at that time, since each cost a dollar to produce).[4] The catalog featured outdoor clothing, camping gear, articles, and advice columns. The cost of the catalog nearly bankrupted the company, but the catalog proved to be a profitable marketing device. Within the store, the catalog was available to customers for free. By 1910, the company began selling women's clothing, and became the first store in New York to supply clothing to women as well as men.[citation needed] In 1913, after moving into Reade Street, which was not a convenient shopping location for women, the store relocated to a more fashionable and easily accessible midtown address near Fifth Avenue at 55/57 West 36th Street, expanding its inventory to include sportswear. In 1917, the store moved again into a twelve-story building at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 45th Street. The store occupied the entire available space (12 stories).

 




The Madison Avenue store included many different amenities. The basement housed a shooting range while on the mezzanine (main floor) paraphernalia for skiing, archery, free diving, and lawn games were sold. The second through fifth floors were reserved for clothing that was suitable for different climate or terrains. On the sixth floor were a picture gallery, a bookstore (focused on sporting themes), a watch repair facility and a golf school (fully equipped with a resident professional). The seventh floor included a gun room with hundreds of shotguns and rifles, decorated with stuffed game heads, as well as a kennel for dogs and cats .[5] The eighth floor contained fishing, camping, and boating equipment and included a desk for a fly- and bait-casting instructor who gave lessons at the pool, which was located on the roof. The fishing section alone was stocked with over 48,000 flies and over 18,000 fishing lures.

 

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. became the first American store to import Mahjong.[6] Ezra Fitch imported the game after a female customer looked for the game that she had played in China. He went to China for the game and translated the instructions into English. Mahjong became a fast selling product, and Abercrombie & Fitch became the epicenter of the Mahjong craze.[4] The company sent emissaries to Chinese villages to buy as many Mahjong sets as possible and eventually sold over 12,000 sets.

 

In 1927, Abercrombie & Fitch outfitted Charles Lindbergh for his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean. It also attracted the business of other prominent figures.

 






Post-Fitch era

In 1928, Fitch retired from the company and sold to his brother-in-law, James S. Cobb. Under Cobb, A&F acquired Von Lengerke & Detmold, a well-respected New York dealer of fine European-made sporting guns and fishing tackle, as well as that company's Chicago branch, Von Lengerke & Antoine. Cobb also acquired Griffin & Howe, another gunsmith company. Merchandise from both Von Lengerke & Detmold and Griffin & Howe was carried at A&F's Madison Avenue store.[4] By this time, A&F was also selling equipment for polo, golf, and tennis. By 1929, sales of US $6.3 million were reported with net profits of US $548,000.

 

During the Great Depression, the company's revenue decreased and it stopped paying dividends. Sales plunged to $2,598,925 in 1933. A&F recovered in the following years and resumed paying dividends in 1938. During that year, guns accounted for 40% of sales at the Madison Avenue store.[4] Clothing, shoes, and furnishings accounted for 45%, while inventory was valued at about 40% of annual sales (reflecting A&F's readiness to meet customer demands).[4] Ten percent of the business was attributed to mail orders from the catalog.[4] Abercrombie & Fitch Co. continued to expand. As early as 1913, A&F had adopted the slogan, "The Greatest Sporting Goods Store in the World".

 

A&F's record net profit was $682,894 in 1947. The company opened a large branch in San Francisco in 1958. It soon added small winter-only shops open from November through May each season in Palm Beach and Sarasota, Florida, and summer-only shops in Bay Head, New Jersey, and Southampton, New York. to complement a shop in Hyannis, Massachusetts, it had operated since the end of World War II. Guernsey succeeded Cobb as president.[4] He remarked, "The Abercrombie & Fitch type does not care about the cost; he wants the finest quality."With so many locations now under the control of Abercrombie & Fitch, the Madison Avenue store remained the flagship store.[4] In the 1950s, the main floor of the flagship was remodeled to include heads of buffalo, caribou, moose, elk, and other big game, stuffed fish of spectacular size, and elephant's-foot wastebaskets.

 

In 1960, net sales rose to $16.5 million, but net profit fell for the fourth straight year to $185,649.[4] By 1961, net sales dropped to $15.5 million, and net profit to $124,097. Guernsey's successor as president, John H. Ewing, paid little attention to the decline in sales.[4] In 1961, he told an interviewer of Business Week that Abercrombie & Fitch enjoyed a special niche "by sticking to our knitting; by not trying to be all things to all people." A&F would open a year-round resort shop at The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs (1962) and its first suburban store at the Mall in Short Hills, New Jersey (1963). Under the leadership of Earle K. Angstadt, Jr., Abercrombie's continued to expand in upscale locations such as the Bal Harbour Shops near Miami Beach, Florida (1966), the Somerset Mall in Troy, Michigan, outside Detroit (1969) and in boutique-style shops in other department stores.

 

In 1964, Abercrombie and Fitch achieved a notable early example of the "brand integration" form of product placement by providing the venue for part of the Rock Hudson / Paula Prentiss romantic comedy film Man's Favorite Sport?.

 

Abercrombie and Fitch held a warehouse sale in 1968 and early 1970 and presented offbeat newspaper advertisements that reflected a measure of desperation. The company's revenue continued decline, with a loss of about $500,000 in its previous fiscal year. Noticing the effect that the ads and sale-days had upon the Abercrombie & Fitch customer base, the next president William Humphreys, a former Lord & Taylor executive, halted the measures. He focused on improving A&F's inventory control and credit practices and cutting the company's expenses.; changed the store design to present a different image, focused on expansion into the suburbs in 1972 with a location in Oak Brook, Illinois, 1972 in hopes of recapturing customers who no longer patronized its store in downtown Chicago's Loop. Noticing that the offbeat advertisements were bringing in customers that management considered "not of classic Abercrombie & Fitch material," A&F ceased its mis-directing ads and sale-days in October 1970.[4] Presentation within the flagship changed as well to provide a newer look. Expensive sailboats were moved from the main floor to an upper floor, a discount clothing section was introduced on the tenth floor, sportswear lines were expanded, and new buyers for woman's apparel were hired. However, the changes did not improve sales and the company continued to decline financially under Humphreys and his successor Hal Haskell, who was a major stockholder of the company. After losing $1 million in 1975, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 1976 and finally closed its doors in November 1977.

 

Oshman's, a sporting goods retailer, acquired Abercrombie & Fitch Co. in 1978 for $1.5 million ($5.2 million in 2013 dollars). It opened an Abercrombie & Fitch store in 1979 in Beverly Hills, California, and another in Dallas, Texas, which was bigger and sported $40,000 USD elephant guns and an "Abercrombie Runabout sports convertible" worth $20,775 USD.Stores continued to open in South Street Seaport and Trump Tower and catered towards contemporary interests of golf, exercise, and tennis. Clothing collections for men and women carried business and casual dress, and sportswear. Forbes described the merchandise as "a hodgepodge of unrelated items" and that "sometimes it is better to bury the dead than to try reviving them." Abercrombie & Fitch continued to struggle as Oshman's struggled itself to develop a strong identity for the company.

 

Modern image

1988 through 1999: rebranding into fashion retail

In 1988, Limited Brands acquired the ailing company for $47 million after having success in popularizing Express and Victoria's Secret. Headquarters was moved to Columbus, Ohio, and all inventory was cleared out.[4] The new president of Abercrombie & Fitch, Sally Frame-Kasaks, placed a strong emphasis on apparel. Michael S. Jeffries, a clothing executive, took over as president in 1992. He popularized the brand to a teen apparel merchandiser from an ailing sports brand. He believed that focusing the A&F brand towards the American teen market would be financially beneficial as that sector of retail economy was said to be growing at a record rate at the time.

 

The new Abercrombie & Fitch reopened shortly afterwards with a preppy outdoors theme reminiscent of the company's original roots. Jeffries desired to have Bruce Weber, known for his sexual beefcake photography, as the photographer for the brand, but could not do so until the company gained financial success. The apparel consisted of woven shirts, denim, miniskirts, cargo shorts, wool sweaters, polo shirts, and t-shirts. Its prices were unprecedentedly high in the teen apparel industry. Sales rose $85 million in 1992, $111 million in 1993, and to $165 million in 1994. 49 stores were opened by 1994, and a 102 store count was aimed by the end of 1995.In 1994, new records for merchandise margin rate and profitability were established by Abercrombie & Fitch for its parent, The Limited.[16] To maintain popularity and to keep up with teen trends, Jeffries hired executives to keep up on popular teenage clothing, music, and entertainment.

 

By the mid-1990s, there were dozens of Abercrombie & Fitch stores in the United States.[17] On September 26, 1996, The Limited, Inc. took Abercrombie & Fitch public on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol "ANF" and with the per share offering as $16.[18] In late 1990s, the company began to opt building stores only averaging between 8,000 and 20,000 square feet (700 to 2,000 m²) in high-volume retail centers around the country. It also launched the canoe store prototype of white facade and interior gray walls to accommodate the growth of its brand.

 

In 1997, Abercrombie & Fitch launched A&F Quarterly. The publication included photography, interviews and articles about sex, pop culture, and other teen interests.[16] In 1998, the company introduced its first subsidiary, abercrombie. The concept was designed as the Abercrombie & Fitch for a younger clientele between the ages on 7-14. In 1999 began a 3-year-long class action lawsuit in which Abercrombie & Fitch was one of several American retailers involved for its sweatshops in Saipan. Revenue recorded for Abercrombie & Fitch at the end of fiscal 1998 was at $805.2 million USD. By 1998, Abercrombie & Fitch became an independent company, and Mike Jeffries assumed the position of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. As the brand regained its prominence, industry analysts began to speculate how long Abercrombie and Fitch would be able to retain its popularity.

 

Analysts predicted that A&F would fall from popularity, but sales continued escalating after a provocative Christmas 1999 in which the A&F Quarterly issue of the season featured sexually explicit content that drew angry complaints. In 1999, the A&F also launched "A&F TV", which featured young people engaged in sports and leisure activities. A&F TV was originally developed to run on cable television and on monitors in Abercrombie & Fitch stores. It was soon removed. Revenue for fiscal 1999 was at Increase $1.030 billion USD.

 

The overall approach of Abercrombie & Fitch, by the end of the decade, to its customers seemed to please male shoppers more than females, who shopped more frequently at competitor shops.[16] Throughout the 1990s, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. enjoyed sales of over Increase$400/ft2 (Increase$4300/m2). By December 1999, Abercrombie & Fitch operated a total of 212 stores nationwide.

 

From 2000 on

Entering into the 21st century, Abercrombie & Fitch was rated as the sixth most popular brand before Nintendo and Levi's by teenagers. The company introduced its third brand, Hollister Co., in July 2000. The third concept was based on Southern California surf lifestyle, and was targeted towards high school students. After Hollister lowered the revenue of Abercrombie & Fitch, the company launched the Ezra Fitch collection, and began producing A&F clothing with higher grade materials, increasing the prices. In 2001, the company moved into a new 300-acre (1.2 km2) home office in New Albany, Ohio. Headquarters were further expanded by 2003.[22] Also in 2003, the company released its last issue of A&F Quarterly after amounting complaints.

 

 The trademark slogan, Casual Luxury.

After successfully launching Hollister, the company introduced its fourth brand RUEHL No.925 for older consumers, 22 through 35, on September 24, 2004. Revenue continued to escalate as sales are reported at $2.021 billion for 2004. In November 2005, the company opened doors to its first ever flagship store (located in Fifth Avenue). By this time, the company begins to uplift its image to near-luxury status after introducing the trademark Casual Luxury for promotion. Revenue reported for 2005 was $2.021 billion.

 

Abercrombie & Fitch began its Canadian expansion in January 2006 when the company opened two A&F stores and three Hollister Co. stores in Toronto and Edmonton. By fall 2006, a third Canadian Abercrombie & Fitch store opened in the Toronto Eaton Centre. Also in the year, the brand opened a west coast flagship in The Grove. Revenue reported for 2006 is $3.318 billion, an increase of over $1.297 billion from 2005.

 

Beginning 2007, the canoe stores were revamped with dark louvers (see right image). On 22 March 2007, Abercrombie & Fitch opened its first European flagship in London at 7 Burlington Gardens in Savile Row.[citation needed] The store generated a volume of $280,000 (around £140,000 GBP) in its first 6 hours of operation. The flagship remains one of the most profitable A&F locations. Revenue reached record heights in 2007 with an overall sales of $3.749 billion.

 

On 21 January 2008, Abercrombie & Fitch introduced its fifth concept, the intimate apparel brand Gilly Hicks. Inspired by "Down Under", it is officially labeled as the "Cheeky cousin of Abercrombie & Fitch." In April 2008, A&F relaunched A&F Quarterly for release in the UK flagship On August 31, 2008, the "bright and insightful" company director Allan A. Tuttle died. By December 22, corporate announced that it had produced a new employment agreement with Mike Jeffries set to expire in 2014. For the first time in its recent history, A&F suffered a financial decrease to $3.540 billion revenue for fiscal 2008. The blame was to the current economic recession, and also to the fact that the company refused to lower price points and offer sales citing brand image-protection that doing so would "cheapen" its near-luxury image.


As the late-2000s recession continued, A&F noticeably suffered financially for its refusal to lower prices or offer discounts. Early in January 2009, the company reported its worst drop in sales and shares. By the end of the month, 50 employees lost their jobs and many positions were still unoccupied. 170 more employees were dismissed in May. A&F announced on 17 June 2009 the closure of its ailing Ruehl No.925 brand by January 2010. By October, A&F launched its official Facebook page. Despite financial downturns, A&F opened its second European location, a flagship store, in Milan on October 29. On its official Facebook page, A&F called it the biggest consumer reception for a flagship opening in A&F history: "like nothing the world has seen before". On December 15, another flagship store opened in Tokyo, Japan. Marking the first ever A&F location in Asia, the opening became the biggest retail event in history, was noted as a "spectacle of consumerism" by the Japanese, and made around JP¥50 million (US$550,000) that day alone.

 

In January 2010, A&F launched its A&F Cares feature highlighting its philanthropic efforts. Keeping to its commitment, the company shut down ruehl.com on January 22, and closed doors to all final Ruehl stores by the end of the month. Analysts began noting encouraging signs of financial progress, in March, for the company, citing A&F's successful international expansion and better inventory management. Also around that time, a historical fishing line dryer, made by A&F in the early 1900s, was sold to an A&F model for $590 USD.[44][45] As a marketing move, A&F announced the relaunch of the A&F Quarterly on 17 July 2010 as a part of its "Screen Test" Back-to-School marketing campaign designed to attract more consumer attention and sales.[46] In August, CEO Mike Jeffries announced that Abercrombie & Fitch would close roughly 60 stores in 2010. Later that month, CFO Jonathan Ramsden said another 50 stores could close in 2011. Profits began to pick up by September 2010 to larger than predicted results (attributed to the result of the major "Screen Test" campaign and numerous sales held throughout the season). By October, the company was stated as being well ahead its competitors (a first since the economic turndown).[49] The brand opened a flagship in Copenhagen and Fukuoka in November 2010, and another one in Paris by May 2011.

 

On February 15, 2012, A&F announced plans to close 180 more underperforming U.S. stores by 2015 while continuing to expand in Europe and Asia.

 

In 2013, the company's trendy, upscale image took a hit when comments made by Jeffries in 2006 that disparaged customers with body types that do not resemble Abercrombie & Fitch models resurfaced. The resulting backlash launched a viral internet campaign called "Fitch the Homeless", which aimed to subvert and mock the company's carefully manicured image of "exclusionary" style by distributing used Abercrombie & Fitch clothes to homeless and needy persons.


Sorry chaps, Abercrombie & Fitch simply doesn't fit Savile Row

 


This article is more than 9 years old

Sorry chaps, Abercrombie & Fitch simply doesn't fit Savile Row

Gustav Temple This article is more than 9 years old

The Row has been the heartland of English bespoke tailoring for 200 years. This is not the place for T-shirts and cargo pants

Tue 24 Apr 2012 15.49 BST

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/apr/24/abercrombie-fitch-doesnt-fit-savile-row

 

A modest band of immaculately dressed chaps and chapettes descended upon Savile Row on Monday to protest against the opening of a children's store by Abercrombie & Fitch. We felt rather strongly that Savile Row is not the right sort of street for the sale of T-shirts, cargo pants and thongs with suggestive slogans on them.

 

The Row is the heartland of English bespoke tailoring, source of the most beautifully crafted suits in the world. It was here that tailors made the uniform worn by Horatio Nelson when he was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar; it was here that Edward VII invented the dinner jacket. Savile Row is where the 20th century's most iconic fashion moments were dreamt up: production on Hollywood movies would be halted while actors from Rudolph Valentino to Frank Sinatra were flown over to the Row to have a waistcoat cut properly. Anderson & Sheppard made Fred Astaire's tailcoats, and kept a section of carpet loose, to be peeled back during his fitting so he could ensure the tailcoat flowed around his body correctly by dancing a few steps.

 

Savile Row has maintained its excellent reputation for over two centuries, surviving hard times and boom times and even occasionally moving with the times. In the 1960s, Tommy Nutter opened a shop on Savile Row and made flashy flared tweed suits for Mick Jagger and Elton John; but he made them with as much care and professionalism as he would have made a morning coat for the Prince of Wales.

 

You can go to practically any street in any city in Britain and buy the sorts of clothes peddled by Abercrombie & Fitch. You cannot, however, go to any street in the country to get a bespoke suit, and this is why the trade should remain where it is – so that when the time eventually comes that we can afford Savile Row's prices, we know where to go.

 

The opening of an Abercrombie & Fitch store could well sound the death knell for the Row. The Kooples, another trendy clothes chain not offering a bespoke service, has already lodged an application to open a store at No 5, Savile Row. Within 20 years, the Row could easily become just another London street full of the sorts of global brands that have branches in every major European city.

 

It isn't as if bespoke tailoring is in decline. There has been a recent regeneration of the trade and many Savile Row tailors are doing very well. Richard James and Ozwald Boateng both moved into the Row in the last decade, and their arrival was greeted with suspicion by the established tailors. Yet they have both proved that Savile Row can be modernised in keeping with its ancient traditions and that bespoke tailoring can continue to flourish as a trade. The cost of a bespoke suit is high – as much as £3,500 on Savile Row – but there are many luxury stores on Bond Street that will charge you similar amounts for an off-the-peg number.

 

One of the few connections between Abercrombie & Fitch and Savile Row is the huge mark-up. In traditional tailoring houses, this is because a bespoke suit takes up to 10 weeks to construct, over 60 hours of labour and numerous fittings. In the case of Abercrombie & Fitch, it is because it has used aggressive marketing campaigns to attach a high premium to the letters A and F, especially when cut from frayed bits of denim and glued to a T-shirt.

 

What reverence has Abercrombie & Fitch for the tradition or heritage of Savile Row? It is only interested in the street's iconic status on the tourist map. Its flagship store on Burlington Gardens, which abuts the Row, has already spoiled the ambience of old-world gentlemanly charm. Endless queues of teenagers spill along Savile Row, blocking the entrances to tailors and giving traffic on the Row even less room to manoeuvre.

 

In a deeply ironic twist, a source in the tailoring trade has revealed that Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, has his suits made on Savile Row. So the man whose company wants to desecrate the Row clearly values its product much more highly than he values its origin. If you had enjoyed a fine lunch at Le Gavroche, would your response be to open up a McDonald's next door?

 

If Abercrombie & Fitch is allowed to open its store on Savile Row, others will follow: eventually, the Row will become like any other street in the world, full of chain stores selling clothes that can be bought in Madrid, Dubai or Tokyo. Where will Jeffries get his suits made then?

 

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The Future of Saville Row ...


We need more British investment on Savile Row
Asian investors are quietly taking over Britain's home of bespoke tailoring. Are we about to lose another British success story to foreign ownership, asks David Gandy


There is a pattern emerging on Savile Row, and I'm not talking about Prince of Wales check.
The world's most renowned and celebrated street for bespoke suits and tailoring, the street that has dressed the world's richest, most famous and most stylish men for generations, is going through a transition.
It seems that, slowly, this most British and historic of sites is being acquired by Asian investors. Gieves and Hawkes, Hardy Amies and Kilgour are now under Asian control and I'm sure more and more of our most revered tailors and suit makers will succumb to the temptation of Asian backing before long.
This development may seem a little troubling at first, but as Ambassador for London Collections: Men, a close admirer of the above-mentioned tailoring houses and also a regular frequenter to Savile Row, the immediate effect has been extremely positive.
Hardy Amies and Gieves and Hawkes both showed at LC:M earlier this year and their range of off-the-peg and bespoke tailoring were among the most admired, stand-out collections of this season's shows. Gieves and Hawkes' famous No 1. Savile Row address is under going a multi-million pound refurbishment and I'm sure Hardy Amies and Kilgour will follow suit, so to speak.
I have to be honest, I believe heavy investment and redevelopment is what Savile Row desperately needs. Perhaps James Bond, David Beckham, Justin Timberlake and a host of other extremely famous and stylish men love wearing Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren, but if you are looking for a bespoke suit cut by the finest cutters in the world with hundreds of years of experience, you will appreciate why a Savile Row suit is the pinnacle of style and grace. That said, how many bespoke suits do men buy a year? Not many and thus Saville Row is not exactly the most bustling of streets in London.
And yet, Savile Row should really be the ultimate men's shopping street. It badly needs to entice more visitors, bringing with them the custom and support that these tailoring houses need. But how? I believe the area needs to incorporate an array of mens stores, including Hackett, Belstaff, Burberry, Tods, Church's, even Topman. And how about M&S too? (Following on from their incredibly successful 'Simply Food’, why not a 'Simply Men' store?)
Instead of the above retailers moving in, though, someone has granted Abercrombie Kids approval to open a store on the Row. This is a sad decision which will likely have the opposite effect of what needs to be achieved here. Most likely, it will force up rental prices for the rest of the Row, leading to either more foreign investments or takeovers for the smaller or struggling tailoring houses. Some, unfortunately, might face closure altogether.
Of course what we really have to look at here is why it takes foreign investment and foreign shops to start this transition in the first place. We have to ask ourselves, where is the British investment? According to the latest stats, Britain has the fastest-growing economy in western Europe, but investment into some of our most famous British brands, products and exports (something desperately needed by all accounts) is slow to emerge. Ot looks like Savile Row could become another victim of that.
A prime example of what happens when British money is not invested into well-regarded British brands is our car industry (or what used to be our car industry). World famous names such as Mini, Bentley and Rolls-Royce are all German owned and I hear that Aston Martin may be next. I can almost hear the Bentley Boys and Sir Alec Issigonis turning in their graves.
Mini, Rolls-Royce and Bentley are all recording record profits and the latest example of a brilliant British brand enjoying success in foreign hands is Jaguar Land Rover. Bought six years ago by Indian steel giant Tata from Ford, the company has just announced that its profits more than doubled in the last quarter of 2013, to £842m. All of this proves what exceptional British designers and engineers can achieve with the necessary investment.
Of course, it is very easy for me to say that companies and individuals should invest millions of pounds into traditional tailoring houses and brands. And obviously it's not just Savile Row businesses - I could reel off a long list of young, exciting British designers and brands that are producing world-class products and are crying out for investment.
In reality it is us, the consumers, who could also assist, preserve and transform these British labels, brands and products, and that's by actually buying British. So the next time you get out of your Audi or BMW, in your Zara casual wear to go and buy that Armani or Tom Ford suit, perhaps you should think twice. Perhaps you should consider going to see Simon at Henry Poole, for example. You will experience a service like no other and you will find yourself in the very finest suit, something so special you may even want to hand it on to the next generation. Henry Poole has been a family-run business and a stalwart of Savile Row since the early 19th century. If we are not careful, true British-owned businesses like that may soon be very rare indeed.
David Gandy is represented by Select Model Management
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDavidGandy

Follow David on Twitter at @DGandyOfficial


WHAT REMAINS OF SAVILE ROW ?
Hugo JACOMET


( … ) “While the Gieves and Hawkes assessment of the repugnant installment of Abercrombie & Fitch and Abercrombie Kids on the Row certainly rings true, we can’t help but also think that the real problem of Savile Row may not just be the « Abercrombie and Fitch Affair » (with all the noise made around the issue by our gently-crazed friends of the Chap and their now infamous « Give Three Piece a Chance » campaign).
In reality, the Abercrombie and Fitch affair is merely a tree, even if a big and smelly one, that hides the forest…
Friday night, after a wonderful event at 39 Savile Row, we had the pleasure to share dinner with our dear friend (and occasional contributor) James Sherwood, with whom we had the opportunity to exchange our feelings about the recent evolution of the Row, the current marketing orgy there, and the misuse of the name Savile Row.
For those who are not regular readers of PG, let us remind you that James is the author of the bestseller « Savile Row, The Master Tailors of British Bespoke », published in 2010 at Thames & Hudson, as well as a worldwide acclaimed and recognized figure known as “The Guardian of Savile Row” (see the cover of The Rake magazine hereafter). James worked for many years in the caves and dusty cupboards of Savile Row in order to reconstitute, protect and save the precious archives of iconic houses like Henry Poole & Co and Gieves & Hawkes (during the era of Robert Gieves).
main_843_James-Sherwood

Saville-Row T&H

He was also the curator of « The London Cut », the first retrospective Savile Row exhibition ever organized for Pitti Uomo (2007). This one-of-a-kind exhibition gathered together for the first time, a display of iconic houses of the Row –a move certainly not typical in the 21st century in the highly competitive arena of current fashion and style. This London Cut exhibition of seminal Savile Row houses has also been also shown in Paris and Tokyo.
In short, if there’s one man on earth who has been working tirelessly for the worldwide recognition of Savile Row, it’s Mr. Sherwood. And it’s about time, at a point where the legacy of Savile Row is on the verge of being pushed aside with a shrug of the shoulders, to pay tribute to James and credit him for his unique input that has helped to catapult  Savile Row’s power of attraction, specifically in a time when classical menswear is witnessing a global renaissance with billions of British pounds being invested in the sector.
London Cut 2

The problem today is that the Guardian of Savile Row probably does not know precisely what it is that he should be looking after (except perhaps Poole’s archives), because in less than five years since the completion of Mr. Sherwood’s exhaustive labour, the golden mile is more and more resembling a scene reminiscent of any other high street gathering of luxury shops found in most every major city in the western and oriental world.
To put it more succinctly, the long-guarded spirit of Savile Row that so many of us love and revere, is evaporating in front of our eyes. And the gesture of placing a few historical uniforms in display windows as trophies of the past in houses whose DNA is no more British, will certainly not suffice to retain the spirit of a craftsmanship that is unique in the world.
The new “masters” of Savile Row have not exactly been subtle in the way that they have been disregarding tradition : Gieves & Hawkes decided, for example, to shut down its archive room in which James invested so much effort, expertise and research –a work apparently deemed as useless and not modern enough to remain on the Row. Even the Gieves and Hawke’s Wall of Fame has been quickly removed by the new house designer/art director for whom these historical figures seemed too passé and out of line with hype marketing and current merchandising paradigms.
And what about Kilgour’s new boutique–of which fashion magazine editors swoon to the point of orgasm in describing the new design as being the epitome of what a contemporary boutique should be (with the overuse of the word ‘contemporary’ yielding a total loss of meaning), while in reality, it is a store with endless white walls not unlike hundreds of other designer shops in the luxury world.
The recent rise of London’s Fashion Week — ” London Collections : Men” has likely played a part in the leveraging of the Row, since this fashion week is basically a clone of the Paris, New York and Milan Fashion Week, complete with typical catwalks, contrary designers and conceptual installations….
That being said, don’t misunderstand what is written here. Our purpose is not to advocate for the blind protection of an old craftsmanship that remains difficult to be profitable because only a limited number of gentlemen in the world understand, appreciate and are able to afford bespoke.
We totally agree that it is time to promote the indisputable British know-how in this field, as well as to soften the legendary staunchness of the Savile Row tailors who struggle with the idea of mass communication and promotion.
What we really disagree with, is the way that the Savile Row name has been diluted and thrown into brand-communication-sauces as a way to fool the public with products that are in fact less and less British and artisanal.
While not going as far as to claim that certain garments are still made in the UK (when in fact the vast majority of them are not), the current marketing gimmick used by deceitful marketers is to place a label onto garments that states that they have been conceived and designed by authentic and legendary British master tailors. This is an ultimate lie that anyone even slightly interested in our field can detect. Many of the new masters of Savile Row are no more British…but Italian designers. And their collections, as everyone knows, are designed where they are crafted, i.e. in mostly very professional and high quality Italian factories. So the infamous « Designed by the master tailors of Savile Row » that one can find on the labels (and the website) of The Kooples, probably the most industrial and least British brand you can dream of, is nothing short of a marketing abuse…
Among this permanent marketing noise within Savile Row, in the midst of a massive usurpation of a name which has become the Eldorado of the speculators of many countries, we should for once give credit to Abercrombie & Fitch : at least they don’t pretend that their gross tee-shirts are made, much less designed by Savile Row; and, they do not pretend that the ridiculous body-builders who guard the entrance of their shops have been trained by British master tailors !
Thankfully, in this Roman invasion, a few incorruptible British villages still resist and relentlessly try, with talent and courage, to keep the spirit and the artisan know-how of Savile Row alive : Joe Morgan (Chittleborough&Morgan), Henry Poole and Co., Dege & Skinner, Richard Anderson and Steven Hitchcock (St. George Street, Mayfair) are among the last bastions of the dream of an elegant British gentleman.
In this context, the opening of Gaziano and Girling on 39 Savile Row is fantastic news : Tony and Dean are indeed two authentic British craftsmen and the Savile Row name fits them like a bespoke pair of Oxfords. They bring a definitive breath of fresh air to a Golden Mile that recently turned into a « Gold Mine » for realtors and wind sellers….
We, who have had the vulnerability to believe that in this 21st century, there are still things that money cannot buy, have to admit that maybe we were wrong. Savile Row will likely never be the same and the heritage that is heavily advertised by people who have no idea what they’re talking about, is about to die.
We live in a strange world don’t we James ?”
In:
WHAT REMAINS OF SAVILE ROW ?
Hugo JACOMET
London’s Savile Row Tailors Strive to Stay a Cut Above

AUGUST 23, 2013
London’s Savile Row Tailors Strive to Stay a Cut Above

Visitors to 10 Savile Row in London are greeted by photographs of the current Sultan of Oman in full military regalia. Deeper inside the shop of tailor Dege & Skinner, above a rack of silk handkerchiefs, hangs a smaller picture of Prince William. There’s a reason for the sultan’s exalted status: Half of Dege & Skinner’s revenue comes from outside the U.K., and that share is growing.Savile Row shops are struggling to stay relevant in a global marketplace where British clients increasingly buy tailored offerings from Italian luxury powerhouses such as Ermenegildo Zegna. Dege & Skinner, Savile Row’s first maker of bespoke (or tailor-sewn) shirts, this year began advertising for the first time in its 148-year history. It’s also taken to communicating with potential clients by e-mail. The fashion quarter, synonymous with British suits since 1733, has outfitted notables from Emperor Hirohito of Japan to Charles Dickens, and it’s showing its age. There are approximately 17 tailors now on the street, about half as many as 50 years ago. And there’s newer competition, such as Burberry Group(BURBY), which is offering its own bespoke tailoring in 70 of its stores globally.
The Savile Row Bespoke Association lost its battle to keep Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) from opening a children’s clothing store at the Beatles’ former London headquarters at No. 3 Savile Row, site of the 1969 rooftop concert that was the band’s final live performance. The U.S. retailer has agreed not to have promotional events, models at the entrance, or loud music or crowds outside the store. Still, the Bespoke Association said the retailer is “out of keeping with the Row and its iconic status,” according to Gieves & Hawkes Chairman Mark Henderson, a spokesman for the group.
And with midmarket clothiers like Suitsupply offering personally tailored suits for $899 in numerous countries, outlets like Dege & Skinner are simultaneously modernizing and touting their bona fides. “We’re true, proper Savile Row tailors as opposed to those who call themselves ones, who wouldn’t know scissors from shears,” Managing Director William Skinner says. The appeal of the tailor is its nod to “male pride,” he says. “Our job is to bring out the peacock side in men.”
Dege & Skinner, a family business founded in 1865, is steeped in British heritage. It outfits cadets at Britain’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, including Prince Harry and brother William. Skinner spends three months of the year outside England, setting up shop in hotel suites in cities such as New York and Houston for invitation-only fittings, or jetting off for one-on-one sessions with wealthy customers in the Middle East and Asia.
Demand for bespoke suits has out-paced the growth of the overall menswear market, driven by demand from Asia, says Mintel retail analyst Richard Perks. (The U.K. menswear market climbed 2 percent last year, according to Mintel.) But it’s not easy money. It takes about two months to make a £3,500 ($5,410) suit. That includes 55 hours of labor—and at least two fittings—by various members of Skinner’s team of 21 cutters and tailors.
Dege & Skinner, whose dressing room contains a blocked double-barrel shotgun for sportsmen to hold while trying on its £2,000 hunting blazers, isn’t the only tailor relying on overseas customers. Demand is increasingly coming from young Chinese men, some attending schools in Britain, who “aspire through reading literature to the finer things in life,” says Simon Cundey, director of Dege & Skinner’s Savile Row neighbor Henry Poole. The number of Middle Eastern shoppers, particularly from the wealthy emirate of Qatar, is also growing, while Russians and Ukrainians have provided a strong market for more than five years, Cundey says.
“They tend to look for the finest quality,” Skinner says of his foreign customers, who favor fabrics like cashmere-silk blends, which can push the cost of a suit up to £11,000. In contrast, Britons tend to buy for the “long term,” choosing classic-cut suits in woolen or cotton fabrics.
To lift demand for his sport coats, shirts, ties, and cuff links and bring back more Britons, Skinner has broken with tradition and e-mailed invitations to the tailor’s latest trunk shows rather than sending them by post. Dege & Skinner’s first ads—in publications like U.S. riding journals—come after over a century of building the business mainly by word of mouth and referrals. Skinner has even resorted to celebrity endorsements.
He says he’ll make suits at “an agreed rate,” lower than his normal fee, for men who are in the “right circles,” in exchange for knowing they’ll recommend Dege & Skinner to potential clients. That has included a young banker who recommended his boss and some professional athletes Skinner is loath to name. Some things don’t change: On Savile Row, discretion, as always, is of the essence.
The bottom line: On London’s Savile Row, custom suits can cost more than £11,000. The number of foreign customers is growing fast.


Saturday, 22 January 2022

Aquascutum’s flagship Regent Street store closes / End of an era

 




End of an era

 

The forthcoming closure of Aquascutum’s flagship Regent Street store will mark a sad day in the brand’s history, says Dan Jude

 

Feature

Dan Jude, 3 August, 2011

https://www.globalblue.com/destinations/uk/london/end-of-an-era

 

On Sunday 7 August, Aquascutum’s iconic store at 100 Regent Street will open its doors for the last time. For the past 110 years, the brand’s formidable London flagship has been at the heart of the capital’s shopping district, but, due to soaring rent prices and a sizeable offer for its lease, is to be no more. Aquascutum’s current owner, Harold Tillman, head of the British Fashion Council, while respecting the heritage of this extraordinary building, is clearly optimistic about Aquascutum’s future elsewhere. ‘It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have owned and be the custodian of such a special building,’ he says. ‘As the Aquascutum brand continues to go from strength to strength and enters a new era, other luxury London addresses are more appropriate for its new flagship store.’ However, even though Tillman is clearly looking to the future, the closure represents a sad day in the luxury label’s rich 160-year history. It’s a day loaded with added poignancy for me, due to the close relationship my family has held with the brand – and the Regent Street store itself – for over 75 years.

 

Purchased by my great-grandfather Isidore Abrahams in 1932, Aquascutum was later run by my grandfather and his brother, while several members of my family worked within the company throughout the 20th century. For my mother – an Aquascutum womenswear designer for over two decades – 100 Regent Street was a second home. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve stepping out onto the Aquascutum balcony overlooking bustling Regent Street to marvel at the scurrying shoppers below – the same balcony from which my grandmother watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

 

Of course, in today’s fast-moving, hyper-competitive retail marketplace it’s common for shops to open, close and relocate with relentless regularity. But Aquascutum is unlike most brands – it’s a label rooted in heritage, history and stability, and one which has always rejected the temptation of multi-store cross-capital expansion, preferring instead to focus on making the Regent Street shop one of London’s most distinguished retail destinations.

 

My grandfather’s refusal to upscale and open more stores across the capital helped turn the 100 Regent Street venue into more just a shop – it became a refuge and an unofficial members’ club for celebrities and politicians from both sides of the Atlantic. The greats of the silver screen, from Humphrey Bogart to Peter Sellers, Audrey Hepburn to Sophia Loren, flocked to the store not just to stock up on clothes, but to hobnob with fellow celebs and enjoy the unique, star-studded atmosphere, both out on the shop floor and beyond the imposing third floor back-office wooden doors.

 

One of the store’s most frequent visitors was Cary Grant, a close family friend and Aquascutum devotee, who spent a great deal of time within the walls of 100 Regent Street. Actress Dyan Cannon – Grant’s wife during the 60s – puts the store’s appeal down to ‘a spirit of oneness that pervaded from the minute you walked in to the minute you walked out’, adding that ‘Cary and I spent a great deal of time together there…because it was a place of warmth – it had a gentleness.’ Margaret King, a former director of the company, who dressed Margaret Thatcher in Aquascutum for several years, describes the venue in similar terms, as ‘such a warm, friendly place’, with a legendary atmosphere that meant that ‘all the stars loved going there.’

 

Even in today’s very different world, the Regent Street store retains a buzz that few others can match, continuing to attract an eclectic mix of A-list stars, politicians and royals. But despite its fame and status, the shop has now been making a loss for some years, and as a result must be sacrificed for more lucrative brand ventures. Harold Tillman described his current brand strategy to me, stating simply that ‘Aquascutum has got a world recognition, and unfortunately the product hasn’t been available to buy worldwide, so obviously that’s now our intention’ – hinting at increased store openings in Asian markets and a stronger focus on the e-commerce site.

 

Aquascutum, then, will live on, while the store that has been the brand’s face to the world for over a century will be no more. I’m sure it makes perfect business sense, but for me it still registers as a great loss that one of the capital’s oldest and most loved retail venues is to be consigned to the history books. So this week – whether you’re an ‘Aquas’-aficionado or you’ve never shopped there before – make sure you spare a couple of hours to visit 100 Regent Street. Not only will you find amazing bargains (there’s a big closing down sale), but you’ll also experience one of London’s most iconic retail sites for the very last time.



Aquascutum was established in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition, when tailor and entrepreneur John Emary opened a high quality menswear shop at 46 Regent Street. In 1853, after succeeding in producing the first waterproof wool, he had his discovery patented and renamed the company 'Aquascutum', Latin for 'watershield'. In 1901, Emary moved to 100 Regent Street in the heart of London. The company created other fabrics and coats using similar names, such as the Eiderscutum light overcoat and (in 1962) the multicoloured wool-yarn weave, Aquaspectrum.

 

Coats for officers in the Crimean War (1853–1856) were made from Aquascutum's waterproof fabric, as were the trench coats worn by soldiers of all ranks in both world wars. Domestic and fashion applications followed, promoted in the 19th century by royal fashion leader King Edward VII; he was Aquascutum's first royal client, ordering an Aquascutum coat in the Prince of Wales check. In 1897, Aquascutum was granted a royal warrant, the first that would mark the British royal family's long patronage of the company. Aquascutum's trenchcoats have been worn by three Princes of Wales, Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. In 1900, Aquascutum opened a womenswear department, offering water-repellent capes and coats, which were very popular among British suffragettes.

 

The company has supplied aristocrats, political leaders, and actors, including three Princes of Wales, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Winston Churchill, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, and Michael Caine. During the 1980s and 1990s, Kingsley Matheson Pink, managing director of the Regent Street flagship store, dressed UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, including her visit to the USSR, and comprised coats and tailored suits, dresses and evening wear. He also was subsequently responsible for dressing Prime Minister John Major, as well as a number of other international dignitaries including the King of Malaysia.

 

Aquascutum was family owned until 1990, when it was purchased by Japanese textile conglomerate company Renown Incorporated, and, then, by Jaeger in September 2009. It became the property of YGM Trading, a Hong Kong fashion retailer, in April 2012. In March 2017, YGM Trading confirmed it would sell Aquascutum to Jining Ruyi Investment Co, a holding company of China's Shandong Ruyi, for $117m (£95m).

 

Current day operations

In 2005, Renown was the Aquascutum ready-to-wear licence holder in Japan with retail value of €50 million. In April 2006, Aquascutum appointed Kim Winser as president and chief executive officer. Winser is a veteran of the British apparel industry, having worked for Marks & Spencer and Pringle of Scotland. The current heads of design are Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler, who won numerous awards including GQ style awards.

 

The brand, famous for its suiting range, modelled by Pierce Brosnan and Brett Anderson, also offers tailoring by Savile Row tailor Nick Hart. Gisele Bündchen and Jamie Dornan modelled Aquascutum designs and vintage pieces. Homeland star Damian Lewis was used for their Autumn Winter 2014 collection.

 

In 2008, Renown announced that it would sell Aquascutum, after the parent company experienced three straight years of losses. In May 2009, Renown rejected a corporate buyout bid led by Kim Winser. After the bid was rejected, Winser left Aquascutum. Renown continued acquisition talks with Chinese clothing retailer YGM Trading, which held licenses to sell Aquascutum clothes in Asia - the brand's biggest market. In September 2009, the management team behind the revival of retailer Jaeger, Harold Tillman and Belinda Earl, bought the company. However, on 17 April 2012, the Financial Times published an article citing sources "familiar with the company's plans" stating that the company would shortly go into administration with the potential loss of up to 250 jobs.

 

In April 2012, the company went into bankruptcy administration. FRP Advisory was chosen to act as the administrators. Shortly after Aquascutum's Asia licensee, YGM Trading, acquired the company for £15 million. In 2013, the Aquascutum factory was again put up for sale, and was purchased by a British owner. The original factory was renamed The Clothing Works. The retailer had to close 14 stores in China, its main market, as well as one in Taiwan. In December 2016, BBC reported that the Company was due to be sold for $120m (£97m) to two buyers, one of which was Chinese textile firm Shandong Ruyi.The unnamed acquirers made a $5m down payment for exclusive rights to the deal.The new owners took over the business in March 2017.

 

In September 2020, Aquascutum went into administration again.In the same month, Aquascutum granted Trinity Limited exclusive rights to design, manufacture and distribute its products in Greater China and appointed Trinity as its exclusive licensing agent to manage its global licensing business. Trinity is a publicly-listed company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and a subsidiary of privately held Beijing Ruyi Fashion Investment Holding Company Limited. Trinity manages four international brands, namely Cerruti 1881, Gieves & Hawkes and Kent & Curwen, which its owns, and D’URBAN, which it operates under a long-term license in Greater China.


Thursday, 20 January 2022

ITV blasted over 'insensitive' Keeping Up With The Aristocrats series 'Absolute joke' ...


ITV blasted over 'insensitive' Keeping Up With The Aristocrats series 'Absolute joke'

 

ITV viewers have blasted the channel over their timing as they aired three-part series, Keeping Up With The Aristocrats, which takes a look inside Britain's most prominent aristocratic dynasties.

 

By LAUREN WILLIAMS

22:26, Mon, Jan 17, 2022 | UPDATED: 14:21, Tue, Jan 18, 2022

https://www.express.co.uk/showbiz/tv-radio/1551627/ITV-blasted-insensitive-Keeping-Up-With-The-Aristocrats

 









The series includes Lord Ivar Mountbatten and his husband James Coyle, Lord and Lady Fitzalan-Howard, Princess Olga Romanoff, and many others. However, ITV viewers slammed the show as many felt it was "insensitive" after so many people had struggled throughout the pandemic. A recent rise in taxes and utilities also meant some felt it was not appropriate to see aristocrats moan about being unable to afford a groundskeeper.

 

Episode one of the series saw Lord Ivar Mountbatten and husband James prepare to hold an evening of fine dining with Michelin star chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

 

Meanwhile, Princess Olga was on a mission to find herself a new boyfriend after recruiting the help of her daughter and gay best friend.

 

She gave a very distinct description of what type of man she was looking for, revealing her mother wanted her to end up with Prince Charles, but she fancied Prince Philip more.

 

The couple explained they hope to flog bottles of wine from their vineyard for £20 a pop to help cover the upkeep of their home.

 

Viewers also got an insight to how much they pay in heating and electricity bills, with the pair trying to find cheaper and alternative ways to heat their manor.

 

Despite the light-hearted intentions of the show, fans were annoyed and upset with ITV over the “insensitive” timing with many insisting it wasn't appropriate given how many people are struggling with the cost of living in the UK.

 

Taking to Twitter to comment, @JillHudson21 wrote: “They’re bleating on about not having enough money? Are they serious!”

 

@Miss_appropriat commented: “Poor choice of @ITV to be airing this with so many people worrying about how they’ll afford the rise in bills.

 

“At least we should be grateful they didn’t schedule it immediately after #MartinLewis money show! #keepingupwiththearistocats.”

 

@Rng88991 said: “#keepingupwiththearistocrats rub it in for the poor and the COVID his – how the other half live!”

 

@Lesanrachanbern added: “When bills are rocketing, poverty increasing, and people struggling, @ITV see it fit to show how the other half live, bit insensitive.”


Keeping Up With the Aristocrats review – as ludicrous as a real-life Downton Abbey

 

How will they survive with only 72 priceless paintings? And why are trained killers such bad boyfriends? Lose yourself in the absurdly laughable dilemmas of these aristos

 

Lucy Mangan

@LucyMangan

Mon 17 Jan 2022 22.00 GMT

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2022/jan/17/keeping-up-with-the-aristocrats-review-as-ludicrous-as-a-real-life-downton-abbey

 

I think we are probably supposed to express bafflement that there is still an audience for shows such as Keeping Up With the Aristocrats (ITV), in which we are promised, explicitly and without irony, “exclusive access” to “Britain’s most prominent dynasties”. To bewail the fact that the thought of seeing how the 0.1% live who were in the right place at the right time when William the Conqueror came to town still has us in its thrall. And to ponder whether the continuing reduction of the nation – its democracy, economy, cultural life, morality – to rubble at the hands of the elite (aristocracy-allied even when they’re not actually aristos) will ever curb the appetite for watching them in their natural, heavily pargeted habitats.

 

But television viewing is a complex business. You can keep up with the aristocrats for an hour in much the same way as you watch Bridgerton or Downton Abbey. Pure escapism – what would it be like to have won life’s lottery and spend your days wandering round a Georgian mansion being a second cousin of Prince Charles (like Lord Ivar Mountbatten) or the 400-year-old, 126-room sprawl of Carlton Towers like Lord Gerald Fitzalan-Howard (brother of the Duke of Norfolk and related to most of the people you read about in Philippa Gregory novels). “I’m always full of ideas,” he says. “Some good. Some just completely rubbish.”

 

And just who would not want to be Princess Olga Romanoff? Yes, one of the Romanovs, whose great uncle was the Tsar, murdered in 1918 by the Bolsheviks. The surviving family was scooped up by King George and put into Provender House in Kent, a 13th-century mansion Olga grew up in and still lives in. She is single, has a gay best friend to keep her company, and the Royal Windsor Horse Show to keep her entertained. She occasionally contemplates getting a boyfriend but says “I like the SAS type. A trained killer with a good body. But generally they turn out to be complete shits.” This, children, is what’s known as being in the very prime of life.

 

 

Or you could be swanning round a 17th-century pile with 500 acres and a vineyard, like Alexandra Sitwell and her husband Rick. Though he is the kind of man who reckons the greatest crime in life is “to be boring” and wears loud shirts and coloured glasses in an apparent attempt to prove himself otherwise, so I think we can infer Alexandra does have her own problems. I’d recommend a lot of long walks alone around that 500 acres if I were you, pet, and a deal of steady, secret drinking from the vineyard. Or go and have a word with Princess Olga. She’ll see you right.

 

We are sliding, already, into the second type of viewing – the hatewatch. There’s simply nothing like watching a bunch of people braying about their suffering (“If we sell a Titian, we’ll only have 72 Titians left! What am I supposed to look at? The Vermeers?”) to feel the cleansing fire of a hatred that harms no one.

 

The third kind is liberation viewing. To watch Lord Mountbatten and his husband James stress about finding enough tablecloth underlays to equip the one-night-only, £165-a-head pop-up restaurant they have hired Jean-Christophe Novelli to preside over is to know 27 types of catharsis at once, followed by a deep, deep peace. “I could not,” you think serenely, gazing into the middle distance from the sofa, “care less. Let the whole thing fail. Let them eat Greggs. It would matter – unlike almost everything else in this burning hellscape of a world – not one jot.”

 

In these absurd offerings, however, there is always at least one protrusion that snags your attention and leaves you wanting more. In this case, it is Dave, butler to Alexandra and Rick. Dave’s father, he tells us, was a pig farmer. His job, according to him, is the same thing. “You feed ’em when they’re hungry and clean up their mess.” I will take a 90-minute special on Dave and his dad as soon as you’re ready, ITV.


Keeping Up With The Aristocrats

 

Series overview

 

Brand new three-part series.  In this light-hearted, endearing and eye-opening series, four of Britain’s most prominent aristocratic dynasties have given cameras exclusive access to reveal what really goes on behind their closed doors, over one summer’s social season.  Asset-rich, but often cash strapped, this posh bunch are mischievously self-deprecating and jolly. This fun and intriguing series lifts the lid on the lives of absolutely fabulous Lords, Ladies, and even the odd Princess, as they try to earn a crust.

 

Episode 1

 

In this opening episode, Lord Ivar Mountbatten and husband James gamble their reputation, and that of Michelin-starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, by hosting their first ever pop-up restaurant at their stately home of Bridwell. But with tickets costing a whopping £165 per head, can the Mountbattens sate the appetite of 50 fine diners? They include Lord Ivar’s cousin, Princess Olga Romanoff, who, currently single, is hunting down her idea type of man – ‘a trained killer’ no less...

 

Meanwhile, Lord and Lady Fitzalan-Howard are hoping to help fund the exorbitant running costs of their 126-room home, the imposing Carlton Towers, by turning part of their 3,000-acre estate into a vineyard.  And having bottled their very first bottle of sparkling wine, they seek advice from their friends, Alexandra Sitwell and husband Rick, who already own one the UK’s most successful vineyards at the stunning Renishaw Hall. Will the Fitzalan-Howards wine prove to be vintage, or just another sad bottle of plonk?

https://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep1week3/keeping-aristocrats