Students on the MA Fashion Retail Management course at London College of Fashion have responded to an industry brief set by design agency Checkland Kindleysides with impressive results.
As part of its ongoing relationship with London College of Fashion, UAL, design consultancy Checkland Kindleysides this year set the industry brief for students taking the MA Fashion Retail Management course. The brief, which formed part of the Creative Retail Spaces Unit, centred around non-transactional experiences and tasked students with researching, defining and designing a third space in-store that would creatively articulate a chosen brand’s purpose and translate it across multiple touchpoints.
‘Purpose is now fundamental to any future-focused retailer,’ says Mike Tristram, strategic planner at Checkland Kindleysides, who was involved in setting the brief. ‘In order to build meaningful connections and emotionally engage with today’s enlightened and eco-conscious consumers, morals, ethics, business practices, viewpoints and future visions are high on the consumer agenda. Brands now need to clearly articulate these across numerous touchpoints in a clear, coherent and ownable way, to not only generate sales but to nurture consumer/brand allegiances in a post-loyalty landscape.’
The students had three months from when the brief was set to develop a strategic proposal for a chosen brand, outlining how they would use the third space and how it would relate to the online touchpoints of the brand.
‘As well as more traditional retail considerations, brands increasingly need to strategically navigate and respond to cultural, technological and social influences at speed,’ states Tristram. ‘Credible brands must be resolute on their core values yet agile enough to respond to the context of their target consumers’ ever-changing lifestyles and expectations.’
Out of the seven groups, the LCF tutors pre-selected the three best proposals, which were then presented to Checkland Kindleysides in June for consideration for the prize of a £200 gift voucher for German Gymnasium. The three final projects included a techno-inspired event space/nightclub for Camper, a grower’s greenhouse for The Body Shop and a tech-driven airport lounge for Uniqlo.
Commenting on the winning scheme, Amanda Marshall, senior designer at Checkland Kindleysides, says: ‘We chose The Body Shop proposal as it was well-considered and completely relevant for the brand, in terms of translating its ethics, values and brand purpose. The idea centred around “environmental therapy” and “anxiety reducing interiors” which was inspiring. Using a retail/branded space to tackle social and cultural issues was a really clever idea and something that really excited us.
‘There was clear justification behind the architecture, natural materials, product displays/VM etc, but there was also thinking beyond the design of the physical space, such as the events/activities and the packaging. While the core idea was very conceptual, the proposal as a whole felt like the start of something that could definitely become commercially viable, scalable and completely ownable for The Body Shop.’
The team drew inspiration from the likes of Apple, Aesop, Dior and the Royal Botanical Gardens as well as The Body Shop’s ‘Enrich Not Exploit’ commitment for its multisensory experience.
‘It was so exciting to work on a brief that enabled us to demonstrate our creative and research skills,’ say the winning group. ‘The project taught us the importance of consumer experiences developed through an understanding of the consumer journey. As a team we really enjoyed collaborating each other, with different skills and ideas. We are delighted to propose an idea that presents a fresh perspective for a retail space for the Body Shop.’
The MA Fashion Retail Management course is aimed at students who wish to pursue a management or creative career in omnichannel fashion retailing, to shape current and future international fashion retailing strategy and operations.
Reflecting on the project, LCF course director, Bethan Alexander says: ‘It has been fantastic to collaborate for the second year running with Checkland Kindleysides on our Creative Retail Spaces Unit. Our students are diverse, coming from c. 25 different countries and with varying backgrounds and experience. The ability to leverage their multiple skills — strategy and insight, research, creativity and innovation — in the visualisation of a retail concept, has been an incredible experience. Working in partnership with industry encourages interaction, engagement and professionalism, and serves to demonstrate the rich rewards for all that such amazing knowledge exchange opportunities offer.’