Not that the new shop will include either. No, it is to be a haberdashers. Always was. It’s a natural step, given that the Old Burlington Street shop is less than half the size of 30 Savile Row (where A&S used to be, and Boateng is now). More space is needed, and there are beautiful rugs, sweaters, umbrellas and hats (have you seen the hats? Racoon and rabbit!) in the new shop that need a good home. Bear in mind, too, that A&S used to sell sheepskin slippers from No 30; a haberdashers is not much of a departure.
Not that the new place will be based on the old A&S, either. Rather, its inspiration is the old Dougie Hayward store, when the great man was alive. For the driving force behind the shop is Audie Charles, Hayward’s assistant for 30 years and a woman who has dressed all the greats that that role implies. Audie talks with great fondness of the men who sought out the store’s accessories and knitwear, dressing gown and casual clothes. The key was the editing and the fit, with everything being made for the store.
Most of the A&S stock will also be made just for Clifford Street. We had a long discussion about the right waist size, armhole and depth of ‘V’ on a sweater. There will be casual trousers, casual shoes, holiday wear and lots of colour. The makers will be British and European, with some classic Italian summer pieces that you rarely see in London.
It will be what the A&S customer wants for the weekend or for travelling. The difference to Drake’s, just across the road, will be that the goods will be less classic, more unusual. The word ‘eccentric’ was used.
Much like Old Burlington Street, the desired atmosphere will be clubby, with comfortable furnishings and big fitting rooms. Much of the boxed-in feel of the back of the shop will be stripped out, to create a long vista. There will be curiosities, but not the wholesale offering of furniture or furnishings.
It will open next year; hopefully near the beginning. But then they haven’t even knocked the walls back yet.
Photo – Andy Barnham