At a time when retailers are falling over themselves in their efforts to provide in-store links between the virtual and physical worlds, there are a few who are determined to buck the trend. And among those in the anti-digital vanguard is UK fashion retailer White Stuff.
A quick glance at the windows of any White Stuff branch currently tells you all you need to know about its views of the 21st century computer-led paradigm: it isn’t really interested - at least as far as its in-store landscapes and displays are concerned. The store in Shoreditch in east London typifies what is being done.
There are certainly computers in the windows of this store. The difference is that all of them are archaic and embody the kind of white boxes that began appearing in households worldwide during the 1990s. The other point is that none of them actually work – all having previously been consigned to the high-tech scrapheap and indeed, in this window they are actually piled on top of each other.
Suspended above these are old keyboards and floppy disks (remember them?). Overall, the impression is of a digital museum that weeds have been allowed to grow on. The latter point is made by the White Stuff visual merchandisers’ decision to lace bits of faux greenery in and out of the computers and associated items. All of which helps, perhaps, to foster the sense that what is being viewed is nature reclaiming the hard-edged digital world. And somewhere in all of this there is White Stuff merchandise.
What this perhaps shows is that retailers really don’t have to invest in hardware and software to make an impact, in spite of what the digerati might say. There is still space for good (non-digital) ideas and this does not have to mean heading off to employ the services of the nearest computer programmer or web designer.