In 1906, Harry Gordon Selfridge arrived in London
from Chicago with his heart set on opening his dream store.With his
revolutionary understanding of publicity and the theatre of retail,
Selfridges flourished under the
direction of its charismatic Chief.
The basis of Selfridge's success was his relentlessly innovative
marketing, which was elaborately expressed in his Oxford Street store.
Originally from America himself, Selfridge attempted to dismantle the
idea that consumerism was strictly an American phenomenon. He tried to
make shopping a fun adventure and a form of leisure instead of a chore,
transforming the department store into a social and cultural landmark
that provided women with a public space in which they could be
comfortable and legitimately indulge themselves. Emphasizing the
importance of creating a welcome environment, he placed merchandise on
display so customers could examine it, moved the highly profitable
perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor, and established
policies that made it safe and easy for customers to shop. These
techniques have been adopted by modern department stores around the
world. Either Selfridge or Marshall Field is popularly held to have
coined the phrase "the customer is always right", and Selfridge used it
regularly in his advertising.
Selfridges' windows have become synonymous also with the brand, and
to a certain degree have become as famous as the company and Oxford
Street location itself. Selfridges has a history of bold art initiatives
when it comes to the window designs. Selfridge himself likened the act
of shopping to the act of attending the theater and encouraged his
customers to make this connection as well by covering his show windows
with silk curtains before dramatically unveiling the displays on opening
day. Just as they do today, the window designs served as the
opening act of the entire play of the Selfridge experience and helped
capture the public’s attention to transform customers into true
In the 1940s, smaller provincial Selfridge stores were sold to the
John Lewis Partnership, and in 1951 the original Oxford Street store was
acquired by the Liverpool-based Lewis's chain of department stores.
Lewis's and Selfridges were then taken over in 1965 by the Sears Group
owned by Charles Clore. Expanded under the Sears group to include
branches in Manchester and Birmingham, in 2003 the chain was acquired by
Canada's Galen Weston. Harry Gordon Selfridge's
spirit of innovation and creativity lives on through its owners today.
Selfridges, also known as Selfridge & Co., is a chain of high end
department stores in the United Kingdom. It was founded by Harry Gordon
Selfridge. The flagship store on London's Oxford Street is the second
largest shop in the UK.
2016 Spotlight: 2016 marks the fifth year of Selfridges' seminal
Bright Young Things talent platform. To celebrate this anniversary, they
will not only honour its legacy, but invest in the future. Bright New
Things will champion some of the UK’s most exciting talents, and by
working in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, they
will put the focus on sustainability. Via a selection process open to
all ages, they have selected nine candidates who put sustainability and
innovative design side by side at the heart of their practice.
Note: the items pictures above may no longer be available. This
is simply an example of the types of product that has been offered at
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