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‘Windows reveal the soul of the store’ (Portas, 1999: 41). Every store has its own concept that characterizes each display, varying from theatre, drama or in the case of Armani Exchange minimalism. Well-dressed windows are undoubtedly, a dynamic form of advertising for products reflecting the stores’ brand image. This essay seeks to evaluate how A|X Armani Exchange’s window displays communicate to spectators with the use of various resources. Armani Exchange is one of the sub-brands under the parental brand of Giorgio Armani. The use of colour, lighting, props and graphics can capture interest, indicating the foundation of any decent display whose aim is to get people off the street. Windows are used as a selling device promoting products. They also mirror what the store is about, bringing pleasure to the eye. A stores’ window is effectual if it tempts customers who will want and be able to purchase the products offered, conveying quality, style and pricing (Portas, 2007).
Moreover, windows can lure someone in a shop due to psychological factors. Brand founders such as Armani and Dior, give their own unique identity on their products and are therefore based on persona. As an online source says ‘Armani Exchange has become one of the most dynamic collections with its own unique identity, as well as an ever-growing base of young customers’ (www.ameinfo.com/192218.html). City life is emitted through its concept of sexy, chic and stalwart garments. Hence, it can be said that quality along with brand loyalty comes before the cost. Windows work on the principle “first impression is the best impression”, implying that only a few seconds are needed for a display to “speak” to a passer-by and get him/her inside a store. Portas asserts that ‘visual merchandising is the art and science of silent selling, bringing product, environment and space into one stimulating and engaging display to encourage sale’ (Drapers, October 29: 34). This is shown by the power of Armani Exchange’s logo -with grey background and white letters signifying practicality, neutrality but also timelessness- which is becoming more and more recognisable.
Furthermore, Armani Exchange’s target customers are both independent male and female who have their own style, belonging in the age group of 16-35. It is more accessible to the bourgeoisie, who want a taste of the luxurious brand. Given that prices are lower than the rest of the Armani sub-brands, the apparel is more inclusive to the public. This stores’ clientele may work as managers, interns or may even be students living in East London. Additionally, they may go out for a drink, coffee or shopping at least once a week, or read magazines like Vogue. Other stores they visit include Zara and Benetton. What is more CPI is escalating; competition is astonishingly high while consumer spending started to fall as September figures show because of pessimism (www.guardian.co.uk, 2010). As a result, retail sales are expected to fall in the following months, along with a rise in VAT.
Armani Exchange windows’ are open-back; implying there is ‘no back wall’ (Morgan: 44). The striptease effect is clear as we can see the internal displays emphasizing the focal point through the space between the mannequins, creating a more intense visual impact, which is representative of the merchandise of the store. A|X shows the garment’s prices at the bottom of the windowpane. Lighting from the ceiling and floor is ambient acting as a catalyst for the area (www.infostore.gr. 2010), as Figure 1 shows:
Figure 1: The window shows A|X Armani Exchange’s front window in Regent Str. London, October 19, 2010
Source: Kaisidi, 2010
For autumn/winter 2010, Armani Exchange trails a repetition of dark shades evoking a monochromatic colour scheme exerting sophistication and a clean look, which are pleasing to the eye. Materials like leather and...