The Rite of Spring

In the light of dramatic current events, between revolutions and natural disasters, retailers are doing all they can to convince customers that spring is the ideal time to be in a good mood and enjoy life, to go out and have fun and naturally to shop for new things that make them feel better, different and very lucky to be alive and well.

Wandering through the streets of London and Paris, I have noticed the following trends:

1- Butterflies. They are everywhere. On the high street and in the luxury boutiques, butterflies symbolize beauty, lightness and freedom. A pretty powerful symbol that is telling the customers that they too can be light, colorful and carefree – especially in troubled times. That everything is ephemeral and one should definitely seize the day. And the items on display before they’re gone…


2- Superheroines. Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl et al. are very much du jour. Whether as a real fashion and design influencer with visible symbols or as a general theme, superhuman comic figures are everywhere and undeniably aim to have a very positive effect on customers.  Who hasn’t been fascinated by the beautiful, clever and powerful Wonder Woman with her gorgeous costume and her invincible style? And what about Supergirl and Catwoman? It sure has been a long time since they have been seen in movies or on TV but they remind us of when we were young and so certain that we too can achieve incredible things. By using Superheroines, retailers are giving their customers the clothes and accessories to finally publically become those Superchicks they always secretly dreamed of being. It’s like a teenage dream come true.

3- Play. Having already dominated the past Holiday season, “Come & Play” is still here, in variations of all kinds, albeit translated into a more grownup way. Golden rollercoasters are carrying the new season at Louis Vuitton, Matrioshkas of a very peculiar kind are rotating and telling their customers to “Shed their layers” at Ted Baker and Christian Louboutin is taking everyone to an enchanted circus.  Come & Play remains a very good way to insufflate fun and put a smile on the customers’ face by reminding them of the joy and fascination they had as kids playing with new toys.

4- Neon lights. The Fifties. The Sixties. The Seventies. The Eighties. Those eras have acquired an idealized nostalgic varnish by now; they are “the good old times”. This trend is strongly fueled by incredibly stylish and highly covetable designer collections for spring/summer 201 – Céline, Tom Ford, Gucci and Marc Jacobs, to name a few – have borrowed strong symbols from those various eras and translated them into beautiful fashions and powerful ad campaigns. And let’s not forget Mad Men, the highly stylish and successful TV show that has everyone wanting to look polished and chic while wondering whether it would be a good thing to start drinking at the office… Amidst this profuse nostalgia, neon lights have the unique quality of infusing a retro touch to any façade, any store, any brand and using a certain font will undeniably link them to a certain era. Besides the fact that they are visible from far and can be made in the brightest colors, neon signs are cool. And whether they remind you of a 50’s era diner in Middle America (or from Edward Hopper’s incredible paintings) or the hip clubs from Miami Vice, they somehow symbolize the American Dream. And that’s pretty powerful.

But at the end, all those trends aspire to the same thing: retailers want to make you hope, make you dream and make you believe that even though things have been pretty bad for the past months – or even couple of years – you should never stop being optimistic and believe in the capitalistic ideal that going out, shopping and having fun – not being ashamed – doing it is a fundamental right, an expression of freedom and maybe the road to a certain happiness.

7 Comments

  • bouboulina says:

    your new article is fantastic.You are a genius girl.

  • amalia says:

    as bbc announced retail therapy prolong your life and improves health-so,why don’t follow the tips of Diva Maya and see by yourself how your life will change,to better that is!

  • Maya,

    This is so fascinating and shows how retail uses a lot of psychological principles. I love the addition of optimism (and butterflies!) – that’s something we all can use more of. However, it begs a bigger question – will we truly be happier when we buy more stuff?? We know the answer, but why do we keep thinking and why would retail assert that’s true? Is there a way to sell that isn’t about covering up what ails/horrifies us, but to bring it into the light and still see joy?

    Ah, too deep of questions for even me today.
    I love what you have shared here and the depth in which you’re willing to explore!

    -Heather :)

  • Maya says:

    Heather,
    The questions you are raising are very interesting and I think they will have to be explored in depth when we meet ;-).
    I think that retail has become a real form of entertainment.
    Like TV, it has the power to make you feel all sorts of things thanks to music, colors, smells and various kinds of visual symbols that speak to your conscious but also trigger things deep in your subconscious. It also has the power to numb your brain and manipulate you if you are feeling vulnerable. Sure there are ways to bring the light. But optimism has had a really bad rep these days and many have given up.
    Retail and consumption in general have somehow become “The Opium of the people” of the modern world and of affluent societies.
    Always a pleasure to hear from you.
    -maya

  • Allie says:

    What a great post. Thank you maya for sharing those insights. Your blog is incredibly clever and useful and is a great source of inspiration. Looking forward to more…
    Allie

  • raya says:

    Great post as always! I’m a big fan of your blog, great insights!
    Eager to read new posts!

    Raya

  • Amal says:

    Great new post & insights, as ever!
    I’d like to congratulate you on your wonderful blog, not only is it smart, resourceful and completely publicity-free, but it is also a great read!
    Love the personal touch, excellent taste & eclectic features… and thanks for sparing us the usual retail-victim, must-have gaga jargon.
    Keep it up!

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