It’s supposed to be summer and retailers have responded with windows that reflect the season. John Ryan takes a look.
It’s high summer, or at least that’s what the calendar says, and so shoppers should be thronging the shops stocking up on their high summerwear. An interesting theory, given the climatic ups and downs that we seem to be getting used to, but it’s one that retailers are sticking to as far as their windows are concerned.
What this should mean is lots of shorts and skimpy tops for women and something approximating to this for men, but there appears to be rather more to it - that is if the shop windows of London’s West End are anything to go by.
Urban Outfitters, Oxford Street/Marble Arch
In spite of being a commercial enterprise, the new Urban Outfitters outpost in Oxford Street’s far western reaches maintains a semblance of a counter-culture take on life. In the store window, this takes the form of suspended brightly-coloured headphones, coupled with equally bright training shoes at the base of the display.
This kind of arrangement can only work if there is a dark or neutral backdrop or it runs the risk of the clash more or less cancelling everything out in the visual equivalent of white noise. No such danger here, where the view beyond the headphones is of a wood-built display for old vinyl, neatly linking window with interior.
Massimo Dutti, Regent Street
In keeping with what is being done just along the road in Mappin & Webb, Zara’s upscale Massimo brand has opted to forget about merchandise and put a life-size horse with a posh gent in the window instead.
Both horse and slickly blazered rider stand in a faux paddock, while this could take place at any time of year, the assumption has to be that it is a summer window. A small poster informed onlookers that there was a link between what was on view and the Longines Global Champions Tour in London in June. This may have only been relevant to a few people wandering along Regent Street, but in terms of turning heads and giving shoppers a reason to head into Massimo Dutti, it was an effective vehicle.
Mappin & Webb, Regent Street
You have to be pretty well-heeled to go on a Regent Street shopping spree, and even among those for whom this is not an issue, a few minutes in Mappin & Webb should be sufficient to drain the wallet and max the credit card. The window reflects the upscale nature of the in-store offer with a summer horse-racing scene that features pastel-coloured horses and riders. Some of the horses have no mounts and in their place are small pieces of jewellery. The setting for all of this is a series of small white plinths, and it’s a world away from the normal kind of display that shoppers might associate with retailers operating in this sector.
Puma, Carnaby Street
The Puma flagship on Carnaby Street sets the tone for much of what is to be found locally with a strapline across the window announcing: ‘Summer is in the air’. For Puma this means a brace of mannequins in shorts and lightweight tops. The backdrop is an almost disembodied foot, clad in the product with a hazy-looking blue sky behind. This window delivers summer in a way that many others do not currently and perhaps in spite of a lacklustre June
for sun-worshippers, it does set the mood well.
Tommy Hilfiger, Regent Street
Summer, in the minds of many, means beaches. At Tommy Hilfiger on Regent Street, this translates as a series of windows that go under the title ‘Surf Shack’. And again, in the minds of most, this would equate to surfboards, sand and perhaps a VW campervan or something similar. VW campervans tend to be a bit on the large side for most windows, so the folks at Hilfiger have opted instead for VW Beetles, perhaps just as iconic as far as associations with hippydom are concerned. These have been studded with seashells, providing a beach and transport - a two-for- the-price-of-one image. It’s effective and does strike a seasonal note.
Desigual, Regent Street
Perhaps people in Spain think of other things, but it was difficult to look at the modestly-sized Desigual window with its half-peeled banana and red glossy lips and not make the leap to something else. This was reinforced by the not at all subtle words on the glassline, ‘Sex Fun and Love’.
As a means of ensuring that people notice your display and your shop, this takes some beating. The problem that will confront Desigual when the scheme reaches the end of its life is what to do with the window props as demand for bananas and red lips may be limited. That said, this does have the merit of attracting attention, which is what a window should do.
Jaeger, Regent Street
Away from the flash of the main Regent Street-facing windows, Jaeger’s side-of-the-store window has a display that makes clear that there is a new ‘Boutique Gallery’ in the shop. This is actually a low-cost display for relatively high-cost merchandise, and the brown wooden crates with the names of the emerging designers that are available in the boutique is an effective way of getting noticed.
Stock notwithstanding, the only really summery thing about this scheme is the lurid green and overtly artificial turf that forms the base of the window. What it does do is prove that throwing money at a window display may not be necessary. A well-thought-through display based on a good idea will always trump heavy investment.
There is also little indication that the Boutique Gallery is at the top of the store. This might be a good idea, bearing in mind that this is a new department.
Monki, Carnaby Street
H&M-owned fashion fascia Monki is known for its somewhat left-field interiors and it is therefore a mild surprise to note that the Carnaby Street store has what might be termed a straightforward summer window.
This takes the shape of a bikini-clad woman in the foreground, a woman paddling in the sea in the middle-ground and a people underwater scene as the backdrop.
Unlike some other retailers, this is a vehicle for promoting brightly coloured summer merchandise.
In fairness, the scallop-edged equipment that is found throughout this shop makes an appearance in the base of this display, but it is one of the less original efforts along London’s young fashion thoroughfare.
In effect, the window communicates what it sets out to: summer on a budget.