WindowsWear: Making Global Window Displays Accessible to the Masses

Lord and Taylor July 2013. Image courtesy of windowswear.com

Lord and Taylor July 2013. Image courtesy of windowswear.com

It’s that time again!! Though the lazy, hazy days of summer are still with us, there is much change in the air. And one of the true indicators of that shift in attitude and perspective—in case you haven’t noticed—is the fall/winter displays in the windows of major retailers.

From Etro’s “Life among the Ruins” window display in Milan to Dior’s juxtaposition of realism versus geometric modernism in Paris to Agent Provocateur’s sexy but mysteriously dark display in Barcelona to Barney’s “New Arrival” window in New York City, the art of window dressing breaks new ground while whetting and stimulating consumer’s continuing desire for innovative, fashion-forward merchandise.

Image courtesy of windowswear.com. Window displays clockwise, Agent Provocateur, Barcelona, Dior, Paris,Etro, Milan, Barney, NYC

Image courtesy of windowswear.com. Window displays clockwise, Agent Provocateur, Barcelona, Dior, Paris,Etro, Milan, Barney, NYC

Since 1780 retailers have used large windows in the front façade of their stores to attract customers or announce sales.  As nineteenth-century dry goods establishments like Marshall Fields shifted their business from wholesale to retail, visual display became a necessary component to attract consumers.  Even twentieth-century art icons Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol created window displays.

That said; gone are the days of small budgets like the Rhoda Morgenstern character  worked with in 70s sitcom Rhoda. Today, major retailers can spend over seven figures per season to create these windows of fashion art. “Window display is multi-million dollar industry with some of the biggest brands spending millions of dollars on their windows,” details Mike Niemtzow, president and CFO of WindowsWear.  “Put aside the major department stores and minus holiday windows, I would say it runs into over a million per season. If you are one of the big international brands and you are trying to coordinate flagship stores between Asia, the Middle East, South America, Europe and the US, the number goes much higher than that.”

Lanvin July 2013. Image courtesy of windowswear.com

Lanvin July 2013. Image courtesy of windowswear.com

In spite of all the incredible fashion art that is created in these windows every season, most consumers, and particularly those who live outside of fashion capitals, will rarely, if ever, experience these great seasonal masterpieces. Jon Harari and Mike Niemtzow are seeking to make global window dressing more accessible with WindowsWear, which digitally showcases 2,000 windows from 500 stores. “There is so much beauty and artistic and creative representation that is being created and emulated in display windows all around the world. We believe  that as we take a very high-quality image of those windows to capture what that window represents and we showcase it, we think the creative and artistic fashion elements  in the window can really be appreciated by a worldwide audience,” contends WindowsWear CEO Jon Harari.

With this global accessibility, Harari and Niemtzow, in their own way, are democratizing fashion. Expanding fashion out of an elite club to an egalitarian art form that can be shared and enjoyed by the masses. “We want to make all the windows available … We choose to cover the stores located in fashion capitals because we believe the brands that have storefront retail space in those fashion capitals are paying a premium to be in those locations so we expect they would have more of an investment in their window display and visual merchandizing. We want to blow people away with the level of quality and creativity of the images on our site. We don’t want consumers to visit Windows Wear and feel they could go to their local mall and experience the same content.  So, the windows we display on the site tend to be self-selective because we choose windows from the fashion capitals,” explains Harari.

Christian Louboutin June 2013. Image courtesy of windowswear.com

Christian Louboutin June 2013. courtesy of windowswear.com

And with this cataloging of global window displays Harari and Niemtzow are systematically recording fashion trends and measuring what appeals to market consumers. From  New York City to Tokyo to London and Shanghai, WindowWears documents how megabrands and brands associated with a unique aesthetic expands their points of view and translates their seasonal perspectives from one fashion capital to the next.

Mike Niemtzow extrapolates, “You have established brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Prada and others and their signature aesthetic is very recognizable. The challenge is keeping that signature point of view fresh and interesting to the consumer … Aritzia really understands the power of window display and is using their windows to reposition the brand in the marketplace. Moncler is also using their windows to embrace a new point of view and enchant new consumers. Though their window displays can sometimes appear off-kilter, it does capture consumer’s attention and it gets them into the stores.”

Images clockwise, Tory Burch, August 2013, Chanel, July 2013, Aritzia, July 2013. Images courtesy of windowswear.com

Window displays clockwise, Tory Burch, August 2013, Chanel, July 2013, Aritzia, July 2013. Images courtesy of windowswear.com

Harari continues, “Prada has a consistent way that they brand themselves in their windows. Then there are retailers like Bergdorf Goodman that do unexpected things in their windows. You never know what to expect and they keep anticipation high. They take more of an avant-garde approach to the way they brand themselves in their windows and that theme is continued throughout visual displays in the store … Tory Burch and Louis Vuitton will translate their runway looks into their window display. Now, the runway may have happened six months to a year earlier but the theme is later evolved in their window display.  Pretty much every store that we cover, the window is an important branding moment.”

And with this digital window display aggregation, fashion brands are beginning to take notice of WindowsWear’s unique approach to democratizing window display, and WindowsWear’s perspective on trends and local markets. “Brands are coming to us and asking for advice about particular local markets. There is strong demand from local consumers for western goods … Brands are projecting a universal point of view in local markets, but that is beginning to change. As we study these markets, we are starting to see the shift,” purports Niemtzow.

Kleinfeld June 2013. Image courtesy of windowswear.com

Kleinfeld June 2013. Image courtesy of windowswear.com

Through WindowsWear, Jon Harari and Mike Niemtzow are not only democratizing fashion window displays, they are creating new algorithms by which retailers and brands can track trend viability, and also seasonally measure the success of their ever-evolving points of view. Window watching has never been better!!

—William S. Gooch

 

 

 

 

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