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At a glance


✹ London tops the world with 235 international retail brands ✹ US mall retailer Aeropostale is expected to make a London debut ✹ So too is American Eagle Outfitters, which has 1,000 North American stores ✹ Chinese retailers could follow the US brands by going upmarket in Europe


Fitch. But last year the brand – based in Columbus, Ohio – metaphorically slipped on its trademark flip-flops and sauntered into London’s super- prime Burlington Gardens. Today A&F is the square-jawed


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poster boy for a wave of US retailers making the transition from North American malls to premium propositions on Europe’s fanciest shopping streets. Along with Victoria’s Secret, J Crew


and a handful of others, US brands are shaking off the dust of Main Street and reinventing themselves in Europe as exclusive super-cool premium brands. A key part of the reinvention is the


oung manhood wearing next to nothing has become the signature look of audacious US retailer Abercrombie &


acquisition of seriously upmarket shop space. A&F’s 9,000 sq ft unit at Burlington Gardens is an icon of the new upmarket look; J Crew’s 17,000 sq ft at Regent Street will follow in its super-casual footsteps. According to fashion branding


guru Paul McManus, US retailers can get away with the transition from mall to Mayfair thanks to their single-minded focus on branding. “Relentless perfection, that‘s the key to Abercrombie & Fitch,” says McManus, chief executive at fashion brand agency Crave. A&F’s London store is “cliquey, clubby and perfect” for its target customers, he says. From the sales staff – “store


models” not shelf-stackers – to window displays, everything is consistent. “There is no variation from this


perfect relentless imagery,” says McManus. “They believe in the brand and that it is worth investing in the brand’s imagery. And the store is


Summer 2013 www.estatesgazette.com 29


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