The NYTimes has an interesting story about how Comme des Garcons is opening 1-year-only stores, and following in the footsteps of “Trader Joe’s”:http://www.traderjoes.com/ and others who rely on customers marketing the stores and products to one another. They put a shop into an empty space — an old bookstore in Berlin, for example — and then advertise its location with posters around the city. They then close the store, even if it is doing well. (Fashion thrives both on novelty and scarceness.) This isn’t the first time they have played with shop design, and I remember their shop in Tokyo to be simple, sparse, and architectural. The dressing rooms were neat little spirals in the center of the shop. But this is more than just a CdG move, it appears to be (gasp!) a trend.
All of this is part of “eventizing” consumerism. Jamie (my wife) worked in retail chains that did this to a more or less extreme degree. “Illuminations”:http://www.illuminations.com, for example, drew traffic because people enjoyed being in their (very expensive) stores. The product was literally almost secondary; they were selling the expierience. I guess they might have also been suggesting you could get this experience again at home, I don’t know.
I find this interesting within the context of a recent paper suggesting that buying experiences makes people happier than buying “stuff.” That certainly rings true for me, but it puts the sellers of stuff in a the strange position of trying to filter their products through “experiences,” even when the fit may not quite be there. (via v-2)