Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Why Size Matters: Shops Should Pay More Attention to Their Fitting Rooms

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Why Size Matters: Shops Should Pay More Attention to Their Fitting Rooms

Article excerpt

There's something I've always thought rather peculiar about clothes shops. Most spend a not insignificant amount of money on advertising, the shop decor, the stock (obviously) and, one hopes, the staff. But then they seem to treat one of the most important aspects as an afterthought: the changing room. On average, using my tape measure and my thrice-failed O-level maths, a shop gives less than 5 per cent of its retail floor space to its changing facilities.

If retailers actually understand how important changing rooms are, they seem to hide it well. Changing rooms are usually too small: you need a certain distance between you and the mirror to see yourself properly. You need to be able to prance. They are often badly lit, which is a brave and honest move--with some canny lighting they could make us look fantastic, and then we'd get home and reality would bite, but by then most of us would be too lazy to return our purchase. The curtains/doors are often gappy and you don't feel secure, so you're left thinking someone will, at any moment, burst in saying, "Any good?"

The changing room is the most crucial part of the selling process; it's where a decision to hand over your hard-earned fivers, or not, is made. Why are they so crap?

Some places do get it right. Jigsaw in New Bond Street, in central London, has huge changing rooms with doors you can close properly (I don't want to nick anything; I just want to feel comfortable) and a banquette-type seating system on which a friend (she doesn't want to nick anything either; I just like a second opinion sometimes and don't want to have to go out to get it) can sit or that you can chuck clothes on to. …

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