Magazine article Marketing

DESIGN: Keeping the Store Interiors in Vogue - Fashion Retailers Can Help Boost Sales by Creating Stylish Stores, Writes Sally Mesner

Magazine article Marketing

DESIGN: Keeping the Store Interiors in Vogue - Fashion Retailers Can Help Boost Sales by Creating Stylish Stores, Writes Sally Mesner

Article excerpt

The retail battle for consumers has forced high street clothing companies to take a more creative approach to the interior design of their stores.

With the same stores lining the high streets in every UK town, shopping can often be a bland experience. In an attempt to differentiate their interiors from others, retailers are investing in design to make a visit to their store something to remember.

Checkland Kindleysides, the interior designers for Levis' flagship store on London's Regent Street, won the Design Business Association award last year for the store's new image. 'Marketing had become very generic in the denim category, everyone was doing floor-to-ceiling products,' says managing director Jeff Kindleysides. 'When jeans are folded up they all look the same and products piled high can be oppressive. We reduced the number of products in the store to create clarity and visual rhythm.'

Selfridges last year revamped its women's accessories department, investing pounds 2m. The department, designed by agency Hosker, Moore and Kent, has a marble floor, high-quality lighting and a gallery mezzanine with a cafe and restaurant. 'If customers can sit down and relax over a coffee they will spend more time in the store and may even go on to buy that Prada handbag they'd been thinking about,' says Martin Illingworth, Selfridges' head of store design and development.

The store has spent a further pounds 2m on the women's lingerie department, which has been refurbished with soft beige carpets and large, comfortable changing rooms. The changing rooms are fitted with intercoms so customers can get assistance without having to step out of the room.

'We decided to spend a lot on refurbishing the two departments so that customers will come to us rather than another department store,' says Illingworth. 'It may be expensive, but it creates an environment of quality.'

The shop front is the obvious starting point for getting customers into the store. Advertising campaigns give brands identity, but bringing this to the window display brings recognition. Pepe jeans put TV screens in its window and ran ads from its above-the-line campaign to draw people in as they walked past.

By contrast, Diesel's frontage is just a glass door. According to David Chaloner, creative director of Diesel's design agency Conran Design Group, the idea was to make people want to see what's going on inside the store.

'If customers on the threshold are intrigued by the look of the store, there's a good chance of getting them to step over the boundary,' he says.

'We often recommend what music to play and use an odour, like fresh cotton, to make the customers curious.'

Once inside the store, there is the business of getting the customers to part with their cash. A tried-and-tested method - used by Marks & Spencer - is trade-up, where an inexpensive garment displayed at the point of maximum circulation grabs the customers' attention. Their eyes are then drawn to a slightly more expensive and better-looking product in the aisle behind.

But retailers need to be more inventive to hold customers' attention.

Checkland Kindleysides has created a customisation area in Levi's stores where customers can personalise jeans with beads, embroidery, sew-on braids and designs that can be burnt into the denim with a laser.

Meanwhile, high street fashion chain Oasis saw a massive increase in sales with a strategic focus on high-margin products. According to Aubrey Ghose, group creative director of Oasis' design agency Allen International, accessories are a basic product that people value. …

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