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Despite 1911 Prices, Some Customers Disappointed at Posh Tailors

January 2, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ The Savile Row tailors Gieves and Hawkes, offering a few men’s suits at 1911 prices, disappointed some bargain-hunting customers Friday with out-sized garments, but the royal family’s tailors vowed to do better with a follow-up sale.

The stylish store decided to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its first mail-order catalog by offering 20 ready-made suits at the 1911 price of 3.50 pounds - then $17.03 dollars - rather than current prices of up to 500 pounds, or $740.

People began lining up Thursday afternoon outside the doors that bear the coats of arms of Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip and son Prince Charles. The store gave tickets labeled ″suit″ to the first 20 expectant customers.

But after the doors opened Friday at 9 a.m., some of the bargain-hunters offered comments seldom heard in the street of luxury clothing stores.

″I think it’s a bit of a swizzle (slang for swindle),″ said Bill Gribbin, a teacher, who had a ″suit″ ticket but got pushed aside in the stampede and found the bargain suits already gone.

Of those who reached for a suit and won, Gregory Webb, a researcher, was one of several who found the size unsuitable. ″My suit is size 52 stout, and I am 38 regular,″ Webb said. ″I thought they would make sure we had suits that fitted perfectly because of their image.″

Robert Gieve, whose family has operated the store on Savile Row for five generations, said he was sorry that the situation had got out of control after the doors opened. He promised to try harder to avoid problems when the Gieves and Hawkes branch on Lime Street in the financial district has a similar sale next week.

″We shall put notices in the window making it clear there are very, very limited stocks of the 3.50-pound suits,″ Gieve said.

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