Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The tricky science of Anthropologie

Anthropologie has opened! Three glorious floors finally filled with all the covetable, strokeable, must-have things we've been drooling over online for years. As we are coming to expect from Regent Street's new retail additions (check out the National Geographic store), the space at Anthropologie is beautifully executed, drawing the eye up and down via a vast living wall and ornate chandeliers. On-brand sales assistants say 'hi', while carrying wicker baskets of merchandise and a pretty floral scent infuses the store's "multi-sensorial" offering with a warm, welcoming feeling.

Here's the 'but' bit and it's the same issue Whole Foods, Banana Republic and Abercrombie forgot about... The English. You can have thousands of stunningly curated floor space, vast changing rooms and eye-popping merchandising but as soon as you let the English public roam all over it, the fantasy is broken. It's difficult to explain. Maybe, because they invented consumerism, Americans are just better at playing the part of awe-struck shoppers, striving to become the target audience the brand is looking to attract. Like a character in a play, Americans seem to meld into their retail environments as if they're been there the whole time. Not so much with us Brits. In our lilac macs and awkward M&S handbags, we stomp around the shops with a permanently aggrieved look on our wind-chapped faces, snatching clothes off rails like dishrags off a washing line. And so, like TopShop and Abercrombie before it, Anthro is assigned to the list of shops "Only worth visiting outside of normal shopping hours so as to avoid the riff raff". For other retail snobs out there, these times include 11.30am on a Sunday, 6-7pm on a Monday and 2.30 - 4pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sad but true.

Photos by HG.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I had been intending to post on why Shoreditch is a dead area in terms of trends but then two things happened which totally put a smile on my face and made me love the crazy, modern world we all toddle around in today. Firstly, I received this spammy email from Argos.

"Thank you for your recent enquiry on

You recently enquired about a Go Go Pets Hamster Deluxe Funhouse Gift Set., Cat No. 384/1534, on the Argos web site, which was out of stock.

We have just received further stock of this item."

Strange, because I've only been to Argos once and that was when I was 16 and also enjoyed Hooch in a bus shelter. And, perhaps more importantly, I don't even own a hamster.

Secondly, my friend The Designer told me that he often gets text message alerts from a school in Inverness reminding him to attend various parents evenings, story times and nativity plays. The Designer is 24 and lives in London.

In a time when we can so easily curate the digital information we receive, the moments when a piece of rogue data slips into our hands can often be pure, human, and hilarious gold.

Shoreditch post to come!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

(As if we don't know) How to spend it.

When is luxury not luxury? Apparently when it's online. A recent Guardian article discussed the recent move online by the FT's How to Spend It Magazine. The article queried whether the launch of a luxury site was in-keeping with the current global mood, while the FT insisted that watches, yachts and "below the radar florists" were all part of the "flight to quality" by discerning consumers. Timely or not, the one thing no-one pointed out was the quality of the new site. Like so many other luxury sites, at first glance HTSI is another Flash-based disappointment. Discussing the topic with my friend, the Social Media Guru, we both agreed that Net-a-Porter was the only user-friendly place on the net to conjure true aspiration. Vogue's online presence,, is a muddled mess, whilest Burberry completely missed the whole idea of 'exclusivity' by allowing the general public (!) to live stream and comment on a recent Fashion Week show.

This only leads me to conclude that luxury brands have approached the Internet as an after-thought. At a time when people are embarrassed to be seen in-store splurging on high-end goods, these brands should be 100% focused on creating an online presence which replicate the in-store environment. Luxury brands are at the forefront in curating inspiring, memorable and decadent retail experiences and there is no reason why the brand's extension online should not feel just as personal and unique.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Back from The Future

Yesterday was pretty special. Spent most of the day at the Future Laboratory's trend briefing on the New Normal having my mind blown by trends, insights and their super-slick presentation style. Then I went for dinner with my good friend The Social Media Guru and talked shop and plans to attend SXSW Interactive over a bowl of hummus.

In the briefing, founder Chris Sanderson talked about 'triangulation' - the combination of intuition, observation and interrogation - in forecasting trends. It highlighted the very element which has always made trends so fascinating to me, and which makes it an integral part of branding. That nothing stands in isolation. Everything that happens comes from somewhere and has direct and indirect effects on the things around it.

They packed a huge amount into 4 short hours, looking at how "Generation Jones" - the second largest demographic at 34 - 45 years old - are reconciling their desire to consume with making the "right" ethical, financial, and behavioral choices. They asserted that it's no longer cool to be cool, that we're more interested in a "participatory" culture which is collaborative, warm and friendly. They showed us the house of the future where screens become architectural and ovens teach us lessons in reducing our carbon emissions. I left with my head spinning but looking forward to slowly digesting and applying their insights.

Image via If it's no longer cool to be cool, maybe Snow White no longer wants a bite of the apple.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Check out my first, and hopefully not only, post as guest contributor to the Eye blog. Thanks to John for giving me and my ranting a new portal!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A first in Anthropologie

Bloody hell. Just as I hit the wrong half of my twenties and can finally give up the bank breaking addiction to Abercrombie & Fitch (you just can't pull off prep school anorexic past 24), another American, Anthropologie, gets set to open its doors on Regent Street.

Anthropologie is the sophisticated big sister of Urban Otufitters. I first discovered it when I was living in Austin, Texas and when the dollar was two to the pound. Anthropologie is just the best - the clothes are perfectly gorgeous, the accessories are to die for, the pajamas are heavenly and don't even get me started on the homeware! And now it's arrived in London and suddenly all my work-clothes woes will be a thing of the past. Just like my savings.