Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Visual Merchandising: Harvey Nichols, London #HNStayCalm

If, like me, the word 'sale' is like a drug to you, then you'll really appreciate the creative genius behind Harvey Nichols' new windows, which I saw being put together last week. Part of its current #HNStayCalm campaign, which promotes its huge summer sale, the idea is to give the concept of running around like a headless chicken a very fashionable twist. 

Male and female mannequin lie on foam in the window of Harvey Nichols
 These two look relatively calm. Check out the feather-inspired wigs.

Having once braved the highs and the horror of a Vivienne Westwood sample sale in Notting Hill (where I was surprised nobody drew blood, especially with the very inept staff on hand), it's safe to say that I know what Harvey Nichols is getting at with its message. They know that shoppers lap up the deals and are prepared to fight tooth and nail to get them, so they've brought us ads with headless but style-conscious poultry and then they've added feather-style headpieces, possibly with hair extensions, to the mannequins on display. 

Female mannequin in white designer dress and feathered wig
 I love the drama of this white dress against the brocade jacket.

Assembly process of Harvey Nichols window display in London
Ok, so it's not the finished article, but this is shaping up to be a fantastic display.

For me, the real killer touch were the layers of industrial foam in different shades, creating a backdrop that resembled the strata of cliffs (well, even chickens get desperate, guys - if they needed to jump off a cliff to reach a bit of Mary Katrantzou then they definitely would go for it). The bleakness of the foam made the clothes stand out even more, creating a bit of a wasteland for the mannequins to punctuate with outfits in earthy and neutral tones.

Sale window display with mannequin in feathered headpiece
A mannequin lounges on top of the foam layers.

If being a chicken makes you this well dressed, clearly it's worth working up a sweat for those sale bargains.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Newsflash: Primark is available at ASOS!

I can hear the sigh of relief being breathed by cash-strapped fashionistas across the land: finally, Primark has dipped its toes into the scary world of online retail, bringing its pocket money-friendly prices to an even wider audience. 

Search box for Primark clothing on ASOS
 Bargain-hunters, your prayers have been answered. 
[All images via]

As someone whose home town doesn't have a Primarni to its name, I'll be relieved not to have to schlep my way to the nearest store in order to get my fix, especially when the items I've been lusting after in magazines aren't always reliably stocked in my local branch (but rest assured, there will always be an inexplicably plentiful supply of comedy onesies doing the rounds and being abandoned on the shop floor, amid the detritus...). It can also be maddening knowing that Primark offers the product that I want, but for some reason its entire stock is in sizes 8-10, for no apparent reason other than to taunt me. Pfft. Well, with ASOS to the rescue, surely things will turn a corner, knowing how efficient and successful the web retail giant is - even at a content marketing event last week, two speakers chose to use the website as an example of great strategic marketing, and rightfully so. 

Khaki parka jacket from Primark at ASOS with studs on model
 One of the six products currently available; the parka.

To those who think that Primark might seem like a very low-end acquisition for the brand, you only have to consider ASOS' target market (young women who want to stay on-trend) and its origins as a provider of celebrity-infused fashion. It's not long since the website began stocking high street labels like River Island, Motel and Lipsy, so Primark feels like a natural addition to the brand directory as ASOS continues being relevant to, and in the price range of, recession-crippled Brits. Whilst its high-end efforts such as the Black range are laudable, what keeps the site at the top of shoppers' online bookmarks is its affordability - the idea that you, too, can have a piece of the pie for less, even if you're a student or you're on a very tight budget. 

I definitely feel that this is a step in the right direction. Having Primarni on the books can only add to ASOS' reputation as the go-to site for British women, especially if it means you can replace the jumble sale feel of rush hour Primark with the sleek and sophisticated feel of the online retailer's homepage. And as for the perfect first purchase from this shopping marriage, I'd have to choose the studded parka (£22) - great for festivals, taking into consideration the high risk of crap British summer weather along the way...
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