Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Scenes from a mall

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I visited the newly opened expansion wing of Tysons Corner Center near DC yesterday. I visited Ruehl (Abercombie and Fitch's effort to reach out to the twentysomethings who wore A&F during their teens) and passed by Hollister, and was surprised to see how dark they were inside. Is atmosphere all that they are selling? I understand P.T. Barnum's adage "Sell the sizzle, not the steak," but what about the clothes? I cannot figure the marketing strategy here. In addition, one had to climb steps and pass through a narrow doorway to enter Ruehl, making it off-limit to strollers and wheelchairs.

Even the relocated Victoria's Secret was dark, and a clear departure from the romanticized, even sweet image that company has long cultivated. Mannequins were provocatively posed, and reminded me of the photographs by the late Helmut Newton. The news report on Smooth Jazz 105.9 FM mentioned that a number of shoppers have complained about the mannequins.

This Victoria's Secret also contained a beauty department stocking not only its own eponymous cosmetics brand and aura science (a venture between Shiseido and Limited Brands, Victoria Secret's parent), but also brands such as pout and infomercial queen Victoria Jackson's Lola. The beauty department is clearly patterned after the open display format that Sephora pioneered.

Other stores that opened included Z Gallerie, Arhaus, and west elm. I don't see that much difference between Z Gallerie and Arhaus. The west elm store was clean and open in its layout, just what you'd expect after browsing its catalog.

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