Windows in shops are different from the ones that are found in houses. In a domestic setting, they are there to let light into an interior. But, more often than not, they are covered by shutters, blinds or nets to prevent the prying eyes of passers-by from becoming too curious. In stores, windows may be there to let light into the interior, but they are always there to attract attention. Shop windows are intended to provide shoppers with a taste of the delights that may be found inside. If somebody wandering past is sufficiently distracted by what they see, the idea is that they will stray over the threshold.
This sounds like a simple definition – and one that should be straightforward to fulfil. What, therefore, is the purpose of the present New Look scheme? This is a fashion retailer with branches in almost every corner of the UK, so any window display has to be capable of being installed quickly by the lowest common denominator, with minimum fuss and instruction from HQ. You can almost picture the scene in Weymouth (or maybe the London office): “Let’s do something different this time! Any ideas?” At which point, somebody sheepishly utters the word “Squares”.
And so it comes to pass that, if you look at any New Look store at the moment, the backdrop to the window is a series of non-descript four-sided figures. This is a display in search of meaning and failing to find any. It does not say fashion, it does not shout value; it doesn’t even mutter style – it is just a backdrop.
While there are many retailers with equally pointless windows, there can be few that have gone ahead with such an inane scheme with such complete conviction. And the curious point is that, if you do happen to poke your head round the door, it is very apparent that New Look is getting its store design act together. The interiors are fashionable, they have a kind of glamour and the stock looks good. But whoever thought that squares were the answer is in need of a little instruction about the underlying purpose of a window display.