Contextualizing Fashion: London

The objective of this study is to become familiar with London as a fashion capital and opportunities for fashion retailing in London including the wide range of commercial outlets from the high street store to the fashion concept store.

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This study will examine the flagship stores in London as well as the smaller boutiques in order to express an understanding of how shopping is contextualized in London.

Flagship Stores

London shopping is replete with Flagship stores, which are “significant, high profile developments that play and influential and catalytic role in urban regeneration…” (Brown, 2009, p.8) The regenerational flagship project may be “a marketing tool for an entire area of a city, a large advertising hoarding, promoting th4e place for others to invest or spin. The flagship experience may be a brand experience and this may be critical to the luxury flagship store to unify the ultimate allure of the brand.” (Brown, 2008, p.1)

Gilmore and Pine (2002) are reported to provide “conceptualization of experience places, based on different sizes and locations, both physical and online. Proposed is that originations explore the possibilities of a rich portfolio of experiences that flow one level to the ext and develop a location hierarchy model to demonstrate how these can be created. The most singular experiences occur in a flagship location, one that is indelibly associated with the company where the company ‘stages the very best, most dynamic experience’. (Brown, 2008, p.8)

The theoretical framework of Kozinet et al. (2002) is one reported to extend Bitner’s (1992) dimensions of the servicescape3 and the cultural associations that can play an important role to construct contemporary retail environments. Brand related experiences are such that are reported to prevail over functional efficiency and that experiential, spectacular and entertaining aspects of retailing are coming increasingly important to stores. It is held that individual brands should be “enshrined in environments built especially for them, where retaining is essentially tangible and spatial and successfully blend viral and real worlds.” (Brown, 2008, p.8)

In this context, it is reported that the retail marker “turns to the aesthetics of the shopping environment where shopping and entertainment combine for consumers to make meaning out of the physical experience of the place. Flagship brands are identified as either “exclusive or nonexclusive outlets for the brand, theme entertain brand stores and a hybrid of these two, themed flagship brand stores. The store of this type promotes brands already existing in various outlets with entertainment as a source of income. The retail brand is viewed “within a context of entertainment-oriented services and that brand related experiences prevail over functional efficiency.” (Brown, 2009, p.12)

Created is a “visual three-dimensional model to explain flagship store development through retail orientation, cultural orientation and brand orientation. (Brown, 2012, p.12) Kent reports that the lowest retail, cultural and brand orientation levels are at the pyramid’s base with the flagship store positioned higher up the pyramid or “the more multi-dimensionally branded and the more experienced it will be.” (Brown, 2009, p.12) The consistent theme reported to emerge is the “consistent use of flagship stores to thoroughly combine elements of the market mix. Basic marketing mix elements are these as follows:

(1) Mix promotion;

(2) Place; and (3) Product assortment; and (4) Price. (Brown, 2009, p.12)

Each of these are carefully controlled at the flagship stores according to specific strategies and planning. Brown reports that the complexity of the flagship store is such that leads to “the extended mix approach as the physical environment and people are particularly important elements.” (2009, p.12)

Retail flagships are reported as more than simply stores “firstly they are positioned to communicate corporate and brand values to customers and employees, competitors and communities.” (Brown, 2012, p.13) The terms lighthouse and beacon are used to describe these stores. The flagship stores function is such that can be described as a “marketing Communications strategy, the benefits of which transcend that of the stores itself” as the flagship exposes the brand to various audiences, exudes confidence and invokes interest as well as excitement. A theme that is related close to this theme is that termed as ‘ideal’ and it is stated that the flagship “is the best example of the retail brand and can be understood and the purest expression of the brand to internal and external stakeholders alike.

Clothing retailer flagships are determined by ‘style and interactivity, both with products and socially with other people, in which interior design plays a significant part in the experience. (Brown, 2009, p.12)

II. Smaller Boutiques and Shops in London

Smaller stores and boutiques also have a primary place in London shopping. The following lists some of the smaller boutiques along with descriptions of each of these in terms of the visual displays and experience of shopping.

DePloy Demi Couture

DePloy Demi Couture is located at 34 Thayer Street, Marylebone, London. DePloy Demi Couture is reported to offer “ready-to-wear, bespoke commissions and bridal wear” and to take pride on “cutting-edge construction, fine tailoring and exceptional customer service.” (Urban Path, 2012) The DePloy Demi Couture concept is characterized by a “unique system that utilizes hidden poppers to connect modular garments together to create new outfits.” (Urban Path, 2012) The shop is characterized by large display windows facing the street and the store is uncluttered and extremely well lit.

Donna Ida

Donna Ida is located at 106 Draycott Avenue, Chelsea, London and hosts the “best selection of designer denim from the world’s top name brands.” (Urbanpath, 2012) The store is sparsely decorated with denims displayed on racks and shelves in an orderly fashion making it easy for the denim shopper to find what they want quickly.

11 Boundary

11 Boundary is located at 11 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London and is a womenswear boutique. The store is reported to stock “eclectic but intelligent selection of labels.” (Urbanpath, 2012) The shop has cool refreshing white paint on the walls with clothing displayed on racks and lighting comes from the crystal chandeliers The shop colors are black and white with interesting shadowboxed art on the walls. The original architect of the building has been preserved giving the shop a feeling of timelessness.

Labor of Love

Labor of Love is located at 193 Upper Street, Islington, London and is described as “an absolute joy to behold, a mixture of daring colors and designs but all the garments retain a bespoke class that you expect from designers they stock. The shop has a novel layout that changes from season to season.” (Urbanpath, 2012)

Coco Ribbon

Coco Ribbon is located at 21 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London. This shop is described as “a heaven-sent boutique for the girly girl who loves to pick out delicate trinkets in an intimate and pretty setting. What could be nicer than romantic antique-style bedroom furniture scattered with such treats as silky knickers, cashmere knits, beaded slippers and scented candles?” (Urbanpath, 2012) The shop is characterized by a healthy dose of hot pink and turquoise blue set against white in its decorative elements. One look inside the door and any female would be drawn in to check out the store’s goods.


Diverse is located at 294 Upper Street, Islington, London and it is reported that for such a small boutique that the store has “an amazing selection of clothes and labels.” ( ) The boutique has interesting window displays with bright colors begging the shopper to come in and see what they have in stock.

III. The Shopping Experience

The work of Mathwick, Malhotra, and Rigdon (2002) states that the individuals’ reason for “being in a particular environment has been shown to exert a powerful in-uence on that consumer’s response to marketing stimuli. A consumer’s shopping task serves as a decision frame for processing information by effectively establishing distinct vantage points from which to evaluate experiences.” (p.2) Mathwick, Malhotra and Rigdon (2002) explain that as the “…depth properties of speci-c tasks change, the vantage point shifts, and the relative significance or desirability of various aspects of an experience are likely to change.” (p.2) In the context of retail the depth of properties of a specific task are reported to “affect the consumer’s tendency to rely on an immediate and visceral assessment of displayed information rather than a more considered and systematic approach. Depth properties also in-uence the type of heuristics, if any, employed in decision-making, the availability of an organizing principle to guide the decision process, and the certainty associated with resulting decisions or judgments. Like surface properties, depth properties are imbued with intuitive and analysis-inducing tendencies, which enable consumers to locate surface-depth combinations on the same dynamic task continuum.” (2002, p.2)

It is reported that integration of the intrinsic/extrinsic and active/reactive dimensions create an experiential value matrix composed of four value sources.” (Mathwick, Malhotra and Rigdon, 2002, p.2) Those value sources are reported to include:

(1) consumer return on investment;

(2) Play;

(3) Aesthetic response; and (4) service excellence. (Mathwick, Malhotra and Rigdon, 2002, p.2)

Therefore, the displays in stores should not only be aesthetically pleasing to draw in the customer but must be arranged in a fashion that the customer that is goal-direct in their shopping can find what they are seeking to purchase quickly and easily .

Summary and Conclusion

Shopping in London is a cultural event as well as being a task in which consumers methodologically purchase the items that they want or need. Flagships and smaller boutiques understand this as evidenced by the store displays that characterize shopping in London. Fresh, bright, unique and different are four words that can be used to describe the London shopping experience.


DePloy Demi Couture (2012) Retrieved from:

Donna Ida (2012) Retrieved from:

Boundary 11 (2012) Urbanpath. Retrieved from:

Diverse (2012) Urbanpath. Retrieved from:

Coco Ribbon (2012) Urbanpath. Retrieved from:

Mathwick, C., Mahlhtra, NK, and Rigdon, E. (2002) The effect of dynamic retail experiences on experiential perceptions of value: an Internet and catalog comparison. Journal of Retailing. 78. Retrieved from:

Labour of Love (2012) Urbanpath. Retrieved from: