Summary by Jess Raffaele
The London retail scene is one of the most exciting and dynamic parts of the fashion world. The developments and creativity that occur in this locale tend to set the standard for other parts of the world. Dr. Welters recently spent time in this unique environment and enlightened us to the many facets that London fashion encompasses through a visual presentation of images she had taken of retail highlights.
A unique aspect of London retail which I was not aware of before is the custom tailoring that is still quite prevalent and esteemed. Some custom made suits from Savile Row can cost $1500 or more. The business of personal tailoring is world renowned and quite impressive.
Dr. Welters also described many traditional shopping sites such as department stores. The main ones are Harrods, Liberty of London, and Selfridges. Harrods is a traditional department store that carries high quality merchandise and is a tourist attraction. However, it is unlike American department stores in that the layout is spread out and easy to navigate, whereas American presentations tend to be cluttered and difficult to maneuver. Liberty of London is well known for its fabrics, particularly cottons that are carded and combed. They carry traditional handmade oriental rugs as well as London designers, needlework, apparel fabrics, home furnishings, vintage items, and more. Liberty of London tends to be very selective with the choice of designers it chooses and keeps its sale room separate from its full price merchandise area. Selfridges is an extremely innovative department store. It has gone through a complete makeover and reorganization in recent years to update its image and atmosphere using lighting, stand alone areas, color, barriers, signage, and incorporation of plasma televisions placed throughout the store. The merchandise is not crowded and there are escalators everywhere in order to facilitate going to various floors. Vendors are in charge of their own areas. They carry a variety of labels, ranging in price and status, and also offer food, body scan technology and in-store back massages. Selfridg’s likes to focus on young British designers and highlight them in the store. It has also revamped its entire exterior to fully exude the new look. I found this particular store to be the most interesting and exciting part of the presentation. I think a lot of stores can take heed from the immense success from this overhaul and use it to modernize their own businesses.
Windows and window displays serve as effective advertising for stores and drawing in customers. London has few malls, so stores rely on the windows to attract customers in off the street. The interesting part of these window displays is that many of them tend to correlate with the art scene happening in London museums. Liberty of London, for example, utilized video displays similar to ones being featured at the new Tate Modern Gallery. This connection is very unique and a refreshing way of showcasing fashion.
London retail is rather innovative and continues to be moving in that direction. It is exciting to learn about all the new ideas and take note of their success. I thoroughly enjoyed this sneak peek into the fashion world that makes up London retail.
Return to list of speaker summaries