The new look John Lewis womenswear floors provide a credible setting for fashion shows and fashionistas alike.
Walking through the ground floor of John Lewis on Friday, the first day of London Fashion Week, it was hard not to wonder what all the noise from upstairs was about. The purpose of the visit was to check out the pop-up store from Irish-born designer Paul Costelloe. This was due to run for the duration of Fashion Week and was scheduled to open immediately after the designer had had his show, elsewhere. It did, but the pop-up turned out to be little more than a couple of rails next to an escalator on the ground floor, although the limited edition stock they displayed looked pretty good.
The insistent beat from upstairs continued however and eventually, it was time to go and see what was going on. There was a time when you might have viewed John Lewis as something of a haven from London Fashion Week frivolity – the kind of place that was above the vagaries of the modish. Arriving on the first floor however, it quickly became clear that the fashion makeover that has swept through Middle England’s department store of choice (for that is what it is generally referred to as) has left such days a distant memory.
Instead, what the shopper was confronted by turned out to be a fashion show aimed at marking the beginning of LFW. And it was getting more than its fair share of attention from shoppers who happened to have come to the store. This was hardly surprising when you consider that the sounds emanating from young person’s popular beat combos are not normally the kind of thing you associate with a visit to your local John Lewis.
Hanging around for a few minutes, this turned out to be well-styled and carefully-put together event – just the ticket if fashion is your kind of thing. And here’s the point. John Lewis may have had a rough couple of weeks, when compared to last year, but it has been adept at seeing which way the wind is blowing and has managed to reinvent its womenswear from commodity to lifestyle with new store interiors to match.
Think back and think how the women’s floor in a John Lewis used to look. Not very good, or even a little dull might be two of the more polite phrases that could have been applied. No longer and what has been done by a combination of good buying and better store design shows what is possible, although something still needs to be done about the too-polished looking jeans wall.