Ask Mr Self Ridges
Our resident ‘agony uncle’ digs through the Selfridges inspiration archives.
Q. “So, where else can I find this kind of off-beat inspiration?”
A. “Well, you’ll be pleased to hear, inspiration doesn’t only strike in the midst of a zen-like state of relaxation and mindfulness – it can crop up here, there and anywhere. Just take a look at Selfridges’ innovative history as a prime example…
Stiff upper-lip shopping
Inspired by a particularly disastrous day’s shopping in London (when Mr Harry Gordon Selfridge was told to “‘op it, mate” for simply looking at items, but not purchasing), Mr Selfridge was determined that when he opened a department store, he’d never treat a customer with suspicion – all would be welcome, and you’d be able to browse to your heart’s content. It’s a notion that changed the shopping game forever.
The sweet smell of success
In the early 20th century, when horses trotted up and down the length of Oxford Street, Central London was, let’s just say, a little whiffy. So, to combat the eye-wateringly strong scent of manure wafting through the store, Mr Selfridge made the unorthodox decision of moving the beauty department (previously tucked away out of sight) to the ground floor (a first for any department store), where the perfumes would help to mask the pong. His genius idea was soon copied by every other department store from here to Timbuktu. Our tip? Follow your nose.
Our brilliant buyers travel the globe in search of the most innovative and interesting new things. One such discovery came about a few years ago when they noticed that, rather than sticking strictly to gender-specific departments, customers were crossing aisles, rejecting the (rather passé) idea that garments must stick to traditional gender norms. This simple observation inspired our ground-breaking campaign, Agender, and a concept space created by Faye Toogood (packed with unisex ready-to-wear designed by fashion legends Ann Demeulemeester, Gareth Pugh and Meadham Kirchhoff), designed to transcend notions of ‘his’ and ‘hers’, as well as a glossy campaign video featuring Hari Nef. Remember: it pays to keep your eyes peeled…