Sep 20, 2019 | By Athena Chen
Which are the shopping trips you remember? The day you found your dream wedding dress, perhaps, or your dream wedding suit? The trip to pick out an outfit for your first day in a new job? Buying your kid’s first pair of school shoes?
In a week in which you can’t click for headlines about store closures across the British and US high streets, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shopping experiences in my life that actually meant something. Buying my first bra (not a particularly glamorous experience. Mum was wheeling the trolley past the George at Asda section during the weekly shop, but memorable nonetheless), buying my first makeup (at The Body Shop, mum and sister in tow this time), my first unsupervised shopping trip with a friend around Gloucester city centre (also not very glamorous; we spent most of our time in a shop that sold Winnie the Pooh notepads and bears).
None of those memories would have been quite the same if the purchases had been online – although I was pretty close to buying my wedding dress from a website a few months back, before defaulting to the New York City flagship of a brand I’d fallen for on Instagram.
We talk a lot these days about creating ‘experiences’ in store – hence the ubiquitous coffee bar in any shop with square footage over the average family bathroom. But what about creating memories? And how do you create memories in-store if they’re not tied to an individual’s personal circumstance?
You make the store about the individual.
Nike Town at Oxford Circus, London, opened its women’s floor this week after a three-month refurbishment, and has done exactly that.
The ‘cool’ stuff is all there, borrowed and iterated from the two Nike concept stores in NYC and Shanghai – like the ‘shop the look’ QR codes on mannequins that see an entire outfit in your size delivered to the fitting room before you can get there, as well as customisation services for your sports bra or alterations for your leggings.
But that’s not what will make a shopping trip there a standout. Instead it’ll be the mannequins that look just like you. By that I don’t mean a token ‘plus-size’ model. I mean an incredible array of body shapes and sizes, from a super-fit athlete with six-pack through to your voluptuous, leggings-clad yogi and the blade-wearing para-sports mannequin.
Individuals, of course, quite like being part of a team – hence the huge changing room for squads to come and get kitted out together (booze fridge included) and big screens favouring local London sports teams over Nike-sponsored athletes.
In WGSN’s Future Consumer 2020 forecast, we identified The Localvist – a community-minded individual who aligned themselves with brands that give back at a local level – and The Imperfectionist – a filter-shunning embracer of theirs’ and others’ flaws – as two of four key tribes for next year, and I like to think both would be pretty happy with this new space.
True, there aren’t any wedding dresses on offer, although getting married in your yoga kit is apparently quite acceptable these days.
This week, I’ve been:
Watching Rocketman at the Everyman in Hampstead Heath, London. Not a particularly big fan of Elton John. Not a particularly big fan of musicals. But loved this.
Testing No7’s seven-years-in-the-making new Dark Circle Corrector. With a 29,000-strong waiting list before it hit shelves this week, expectations are high. I’m only on day two, so can’t vouch for the claim you can see a difference within a week, although with my hen do ahead this weekend, I’m looking forward to seeing if it hides any tell-tale signs when I’m back at work next Tuesday.
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