I think its safe to say that the American casualwear brand Abercrombie & Fitch, and its sister brand Hollister, are starting to take the UK by storm.
The storm has already hit America, and wreaking havoc, with both brands now reaching a high level of awareness and recognition overseas. They're widely known for their innovative in-store environments, interesting VM techniques and model-like Sales Assistants... and recently Hollister has managed to push the boundaries of retail design even further.
The exterior and interior of your average Hollister store:
Earlier this year the new flagship Hollister store opened on 5th Avenue, which I was lucky enough to see whilst I was in New York in June.
The store has large LCD screens that cover the front of the building and show a live video feed of the California beach - it's so impressive, it kind of takes your breath away! During the day two models stand either side of the doorway dressed in swimwear, which really captures the essence of what Hollister is all about and communicates it to the consumer in such a way that is clear and powerful.
I mean, I must admit, seeing the outside of the store made me want to go in to see what the inside was like... Not because I necessarily wanted to buy anything! It's really clever, because then you go in and you see the product and you're like... Actually, I want a slice of what they're selling... I'll buy a shirt just so I can have a piece of this lifestyle.
Abercrombie & Fitch was just a few doors down from Hollister on 5th Ave. Their building is currently undergoing some sort of renovation - but they, too, had a way of enticing consumers into the store. A model was stood at the entrance, with a Sales Assistant who took polaroids of consumers with the model as they walked into the store. Then she printed them out and put them in a special Abercrombie & Fitch cardboard frame before handing them to the consumer.
It was like a freebie for each consumer, and the sense that they'd received a little piece of Abercrombie and had a good experience without actually even buying into the brand. And then they show their gratitude by going into the store, and purchasing something. It is very clever. It made me feel so special, I almost bought into it! Ha.
But being a skint student, I thought I'd settle for the polaroids.