The Most Iconic Shop Window Displays of Recent Years, and What You Can Learn from Them

Alluring shop window displays are an indispensable part of a shop’s armoury, with research showing that they can increase sales by up to 540%. They play a huge role in both exhibiting stock and demonstrating a brand’s personality, and can help to get customers invested in a brand long term.

Sometimes store window displays can be so famous that people will flock to a store just to see them, with Harrods’ annual Christmas displays falling firmly into this category. The London department store’s displays are one of the most eagerly anticipated forms of Christmas decorations in the UK, full stop. Every year, shoppers from around the world come to visit them, with particular favourites being Harrods’ 2017 team up with Dolce and Gabbana and the store’s steam train-inspired 2013 display.

This piece will look at some other famous retail window displays from recent years, and explore what your brand can learn from them when designing storefront displays of your own.

Kiehl’s Chelsea in Bloom Installation

Tying into the 2017 Chelsea in Bloom flower show’s ‘Floral Safari’ theme, Kiehl’s Chelsea in Bloom installation was an instant-classic window display. Securing gold at the flower show’s awards, the display’s design concept took inspiration from the ‘sundowner’, an important African safari tradition celebrating the transition from day to night.

Prop Studios, the retail designers behind this window display, used Osteospermum flowers—alternatively known as African Dairy Bushes—to achieve this. With the flowers coming in tones of blue, pink and yellow, an impressive sunset backdrop was created, representing the sundowner theme in more ways than one. The flowers were attached to a wooden trellis framework mounted to the front of the store, and the 670 flower pots were later removed and given as gifts to the public.

This window display successfully brought together a memorable theme, exciting interactivity, and a vivid design that passers-by couldn’t miss. The display was one that both attracted the attention of the public and created a connection between them and the brand. Both of these considerations are important when designing your own shop display.

Selfridges’ Tequila Patrón Window

The artinisal craft that goes into creating Tequila Patrón was brought to life by the 2014 ‘60 hands’ window display at Selfridges’ Oxford Street store. The display featured 60 cast models of floating hands behind a store window—a nod to the 60 hands it takes to create a bottle of Tequila Patrón, from harvesting the agave to crafting the bottle.

Patrón Spirits International’s regional director of marketing and commercial strategy, Matt Sykes, told The Drum, “The ‘60 hands’ window at Selfridges is a celebration of the best assets we have for creating our world class tequila, our hands. For creating perfection, we believe you can’t find a better tool.” It was influenced by Bruce Nauman’s 1996 art show, titled ‘Fifteen Pairs of Hands’, and won the award for Best Window in an Independent at the Visual Merchandising and Display Awards.

Tequila Patrón’s window display showed that telling your story is a great way for the public to forge a connection with your brand. The message behind the display was memorable and likely to strike a chord with passers-by. This display was a perfect example of a company showcasing the story behind their brand, showing that, sometimes, simplicity is the way forward.

Fortnum & Mason’s Alice Through The Looking Glass Display

Fortnum & Mason challenged perceptions of their brand with a 2016 Alice Through The Looking Glass window display. The London brand was renowned for keeping storefronts free of graphics, so passers-by were shocked when the department store broke this 309-year tradition with an Alice in Wonderland-inspired display.

Celebrating the release of the 2016 Alice and Wonderland film of the same name, the Alice Through The Looking Glass display took inspiration from the imagery of the original book and the 2016 film. The windows featured oversized chess pieces, butterflies, swinging pendulums, and of course looking glasses, with tea taking a prominent place in the display. This inventively tied into both one of the story’s most important themes, and Fortnum and Mason’s forte for afternoon tea.

Zia Zareem-Slade, customer experience director at Fortnum & Mason, said at the time: “Our famous fascination with tea, our heritage in adventure and exploration and even our iconic clock make us the ideal destination to bring this timeless story to life.” The display attracted much media coverage, and is widely seen as a great success.

The Alice Through The Looking Glass display can inspire your own brand in a number of ways. Firstly, it shows you can gain significant interest in your brand by doing something nobody would expect. By thinking outside the box, you can give people something to talk about, which should lead to more sales. Secondly, it again reinforces the importance of a cool, interesting and pertinent theme; Alice in Wonderland is such an iconic story that the display was bound to gain intrigue, and fits in so well to the Fortnum & Mason brand. Lastly, the pure aesthetic value of a display, is, of course, paramount, and is something Fortnum & Mason achieved with ease.

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