Today’s Reflection: Shop Windows

Have you ever thought about the plenty of work behind the design of a shop window?

Designing a shop window is more complex than it may appear, far from a side job. The shop window becomes a powerful tool that conveys several meanings, such as the style of a shop, the average price of the items, and the general taste of mixing and matching different pieces. Although we don’t acknowledge it, the shop window becomes the reason why we subconsciously want to enter that shop.

In terms of style, shop windows range from the very simple and out-of-date ones to those with plenty of details and whose creation takes a lot of hard work and time (from three up to six months between the seasons). A sketch of Bergdorf Goodman’s shop window (January 2015), gives a clear idea of what I mean when I refer to a complex design of a shop window.


Each shop window becomes a real piece of art that fascinates people and keeps catching the attention of fashion reviews and influencing in terms of how to best reproduce style. The details employed create a specific atmosphere, and are not displayed randomly.

The design is a work of genius; the space is arranged and organised to convey a precise emotion and impression, such as that of playfulness together with a feeling of craziness. The attention to detail may go unnoticed, yet the very success of the shop window derives precisely from that. Objects, such as rackets or headphones, provide the clue of the style displayed: sporty-chic. These elements, together with the green detail of the collars, make Alexander Wang’s SS 2015 dresses stand out better and take centre stage within a monochromatic atmosphere.

What does the shop window aim to do?

Needless to say, the primary aim of shop windows is selling goods. However, every shop window has its specific directionality, that is the social imagery (gender and class) towards which the shop addresses itself. The question is then: who do I want to impress?

Impressing people does not only mean to attract them in order to make them buy what they see, but to really develop an emotion and a desire towards a brand or a style that is shown. As L. Frank Baum states, shop windows

“arouse in the observer the cupidity and longing to possess the goods”

L. Frank Baum, (Feltrinelli)

Indeed, each shop window builds bridges, illusions. People are daydreaming while they are looking at it. In a way, the window mirrors the spirit of a certain designer and of the personality of the shop itself, as if it were the business card of the shop.

You may want to read:
Feltrinelli, Real Cinema. “Fashion sulla 5th Avenue”, Feltrinelli Editore Milano, febbraio 2014.


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