Opening of Britain’s first Abercrombie & Fitch store has created a stir in the uptight world of English fashion. The store, the first opened outside the United States, is smack dab in the middle of Saville Row, famous for expensive proper attire for everyone from royalty to rebels.

The startled reaction to Abercrombie’s hunky male models, the Adonis-like store greeters and splashy, sexy advertising is a bit surprising. Aren’t these the same folks who gave the world mini-skirts, white lipstick and false eyelashes in the 60s?One nearby store has provided the clothing for every English coronation since 1689, leading some to wonder if the garment district’s image is now tarnished. There goes the neighborhood! Others welcomed it as a breath of fresh (bare) air.

Abercrombie & Fitch faces tough competition in this first outside-the-US venture. Other brands are established and popular with European youth, including H&M and Zara. Rock star Madonna recently introduced a line of clothes into H&M stores.

But Abercrombie had nearly saturated the American market and was looking for new fields to conquer.

Abercrombie’s venture is being watched by other American chains anxious to break into foreign markets. Among those are Whole Foods which plans to open a London store in June. In a reverse move, a number of European chains are looking into American expansion.

Interestingly, prices at Abercrombie & Fitch’s London store are nearly double what they are in the U.S. Many customers apparently don’t mind, saying the look is so unique, they don’t mind shelling out the pounds.

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