EVOLUTION OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING THROUGH THE HISTORY OF EUROPE AND AMERICA
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The most creative period in the history of Visual Merchandising seems to be the early 20th century till the 1960’s in America, in Europe up until the 1940’s. WWII created so much chaos there was no room for creative ideas.
The time when the skill of window design was at its lowest creative point happened between 1970’s-1990’s which is odd considering it was a very creative period in music, fashion and cinematography.
Technology had an impact from the early stages, at first, it was plate glass window then electricity, then air conditioning. Today internet stimulates the shopping experience and it is the greatest competition to the traditional form of retail. Early 2000 is the start of e.commerce. The competition forced many retailers to be very creative – again!
In my opinion, high street retail stores have not changed much since Mr Selfridge revolution. There has been nothing new added to make the experience more pleasurable or even adventures. Stores look the same, not even across the street but across the globe. No personality just globalised pure business in the same dated uniform.
Even though I write about Visual Merchandising I personally do not really like traditional shopping (except Flea Markets) I find it a tiring and stressful experience. My reasons: some stores are just too big, there is too much to choose from (yes, that can be a problem), I do not like noise in general so I do not enjoy the loud music played. I have to walk up the stairs (when there is no escalator or lift) but I’m already walking through the streets from one store to another, so please do not make me walk even more.
I’m tired I want to rest on a nice soft couch that is not here!
Well, I am big time e.commerce because I can shop online in the middle of the night in my pyjamas, I can drink a coffee while browsing, I do not have to rush to make a decision, I do not have to queue or move around disoriented shoppers. I can read the customer review or search through categories all that while listening to my favourite music.
It will be interesting to see how the traditional retailers and e.commerce will evolve in the future. Both still have plenty to work on as online shopping is very practical it does lack the creative side. There is no big window display where a potential customer could go… ‘Ah Cool’!
While doing my research I have noticed how much better the images were archived up till 1960’s. Most of the images from that period have a date and place provided. Between 1960’s up till 2000 was hard to find well-archived images. It does get better after 2000 … A lesson learned – I will try to organise my images better too.