“The Communication of Window displays”
BA (HONS) Fashion Management - ISHE
Henry Gordon Selfridge was famous for lighting up store windows at night and his art of displays. He opened up the largest store in the world and his own retail empire in 1903. Soon, H.G. Selfridge & Co sold out and he retired a rich man. In 1909, Selfridge’s focused on advertising and publicity. This led to air shows and exciting ideas such as the Theatre of Retail. In this essay, I will use primary research as well as journals, articles, videos, books and websites to bring my research together. By this, I will prove how the windows of Selfridges consistently work to promote the cheerful image of the retailer.
From the start, Selfridges took on beauty, apparel and everything else including cigars. It gave jobs to women whose husbands were fighting at war in 1914. This led to image raising events such as charity bazaars, which is later proved in the essay. Selfridges is known for its collaboration with artists and designers throughout the years to produce the highest quality window displays, which all reflect the legacy of Gordon Selfridge.
Creativity became focused in retail display after the 20th century and the concept of the New Economy. Visual merchandising is the promotion of sale of retail through presentation and display. It is combining the products and putting them in original surroundings to enhance the sale of the product. It takes a team of buyers, architects, designers and merchandising managers to do this. Through science, the designer is able to attract the customers through statistics and studies that show what magnetizes a passer by, while art takes on the mission of giving creativity and innovation to the scientific ideas. It became essential to create an emotional connection through display between the products and consumers. It also helps create a wider and more established image of the retailer.
A window display educates the customer about the products that they will find in the specific store and setting the overall style and fashion that will be presented by the store. Windows must match the demographic of the customer. As well as having a proper and attractive design for the store, the window display has a great deal of affect to draw a potential customer in the store. Lighting, sensory inputs, digital technologies and space all affect the effectiveness of a window display. This is shown in all the successful windows in Selfridges on Bond Street, London. Figure 1: Shoe Story Windows at Selfridges, London
Source: Personal Photo, 2010
Selfridges launched a Shoe Story series of windows in the autumn season. This was to promote the world’s largest shoe department opening in Selfridges. In Figure 1, we see a window containing the lower part of mannequins, colorfully dressed, hanging from above. Underneath, you see hands catching the falling shoes coming from the mannequin’s feet above. The floor and the wall both create an optical illusion feeling. The light coming from the dresses above is therapeutic since Mary Portas states that all light coming from above in a window is therapeutic, especially when mixed with different colors. The props in this window add essence since they give a pop of color and entertainment to the passer by. An ongoing theme in Selfridges’ windows in the hanging clothing from the top of the window. This is portrayed in both Figure 1 and 4. This was also used in Manchester where, after the tragic death of British designer Alexander McQueen, the shop featured a window display where a dress by the designer was hung, the same way as the designer had commit suicide (Photo shown in Figure 2). Figure 2: Alexander McQueen Handing Dress, Selfridges, Manchester
Figure 3: Shoe Story Windows at Selfridges, London Source: Personal Photo, 2010
Source: CocoPerez, 2010
Figure 4: Shoe Story Windows at Selfridges, London
In the second window...
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3. Portas, M. (2007) How to Shop. London: BBC.
4. Portas, M. (1991) Windows: the Art of Retail Display. New York: Thames and Hudson.
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1. Livingetcblog. 2010. “IT’S PLAYTIME WITH SELFRIDGES’ CHRISTMAS WINDOWS.” [Online Image] Available at: http://lifestyleetc.co.uk/2010/11/01/its-playtime-with-selfridges-christmas-windows/. Accessed: Web. 2 Dec. 2010.
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