Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
In this report I will be evaluating the methods and techniques of visual merchandising used by All Saints to sell their products in store. I will discuss and evaluate in depth the visual merchandising used in key areas including the shop front and promotional areas. Also studying the layout and circulation of the stores, showing how their choice of visual merchandising is effective.
I have chosen the brand All Saints for this illustrated report as I feel they have a very strong brand identity and have the most recognized store designs within the fashion retail industry. The layout and use of unusual visual merchandising techniques is interesting as the whole scheme stands out from other competitors.
The aim of research will be to understand how All Saints visual merchandising works within their many stores around the world and how its important for the brand to implement their merchandising concept throughout their many stores to ensure they are equally recognized in each store.
My main objectives of this report is to understand how All Saints identify and zone key areas in their stores whilst also understanding their layout and circulation throughout the stores by researching the brands history and visual merchandising techniques.
For my methodology I chose to use the internet to support and research my selected high street store for my investigation. Whilst also using my own previous experiences of shopping in All Saints stores in a variety of locations throughout the uk. All Saints is my chosen subject for this report as I feel their grungy, industrial merchandising is unique to the high street and offers a completely different shopping experience.
With my thorough research into the brand All Saints visual merchandising methods and techniques I found All Saints have over 63 standalone stores with 47 concessions around the world. Whilst their merchandising concept is the same throughout all the stores the shop fronts varies in style and different formats of the concept are implemented to suit the type of property. Some either set in modern shopping Centre’s with open backed windows or even wide open shop fronts with no windows at all. But also can be set in older period buildings which adds more depth to the industrial, gothic scheme of the brand.
The use of open backed window displays allows for light and the eye to flow through the store. The large open window visual merchandising still implements the key features of All Saints visual merchandising concept with hints of the industrial, distressed feel without being as dramatic and strong as the more historic locations. With the older buildings the shop front is broken up by doors and windows which are functionally laid out enabling for the display to be broken down into sections such as window display, signage, doors etc. The presence of the iconic vintage singer sewing machines used in the stores visual merchandising scheme is strong where the window display is in sections. It is clear that All Saints aim is to provide a consistent shopping experience throughout all their stores. The use of mannequins hanging via chains from the ceilings in the larger fronted stores adds again to the iconic industrial concept. The objects and mannequins displayed in the windows are arranged with informal balance in an asymmetrical form whilst still achieving balance throughout the whole shop frontage. The techniques and methods All Saints use in their shop fronts really influences how the customer uses the store, the enticing and intriguing entrance encourages the customer to cross the threshold and enjoy the retail experience inside.
There is a variety of methods used for the visual merchandising in the concept such as pyramid grouping, anatomical merchandising and monochromatic colour scheme. The use of pyramid grouping in key areas throughout the store adds a strong focal point drawing the eye across the shop floor and allowing for flowing circulation throughout the store. In larger stores several pyramid grouping areas are included where as in the smaller stores just one is required to add a focal point and draw the customer in and through the store. the monochrome tones used in the scheme will always coordinate with their latest seasonal ranges due to their neutral grungy colour palette used in their clothing ranges as stated by the brands creative director Kevin Stanford “We don’t care what colour Prada plans to do next season, just look at the average person’s wardrobe its full of taupe, grey and black”. With having such a muted colour palette this means the visual merchandising concept can be tweaked with every season change and not a complete concept needs to be developed to compliment the new seasonal fashion changes.
With my primary and secondary research looking at the Nottingham store and others around the country I found All Saints to use a discreet promotional approach and not bombard the customers with in your face promotions. The layout of the store varies depending on size of store and building but still the concept is consistent throughout allowing for discreet zoning with easy flow and pace throughout the layout. The layout consists of mainly wall and mid floor rails with the addition of rusting cast iron trolleys and other industrial warehouse style objects. There is also a seating area consisting of leather sofas and a coffee table to sit and take in the ambience of the store whilst enjoying the retail experience the industrial, grungy scheme provides.
Lighting is an important part of the brands visual merchandising concept, its used in various ways to highlight key areas, above the shelving and boldly in the brands signage. The use of subtle lighting instead of bright led style lighting keeps to the atmosphere the brand have created. Theatre set styled lighting on a retractable fitting or on exposed rails are used across the ceiling, the retractable fitting allows certain lights to be lowered above certain areas to highlight and zone. They have also used flush mounted black cages in some stores with vintage filament bulbs are used where the lightbulbs are exposed to again add to the aged, vintage and distressed atmosphere. There is also more of the theatre set styled lighting at the top of the shelving units attracted the pipework which makes up the frame of wall shelving. The main signage of the brands name is created using vintage filament bulbs giving a dramatic Hollywood glamour feel, i have also seen the use of this in the shape of a cross mounted on the ceiling of some of the larger stores.
The use of props and mannequins is an important part of the visual merchandising concept used throughout all the stores, the scale of this key element is varied depending on the size of the store. The mannequins used are headless most prominently used hanging in the larger fronted stores windows by chains or on singular stands. Other props used are of an industrial origin and mainly made from metal, aged wood and glass with the addition of leather used in the seating. The main prop used is the iconic singer sewing machine which features in the window displays and throughout the store layout set amongst the clothing folded on glass topped tables. Incorporating the buildings existing structural supports and decorative finishes with displays is also a key element to the visual merchandising concept.