Friday, July 24, 2009

Selfridge & Co.

Brittany De Clercq, Alex Jimenez, Claudia Flores, & Tara Biberstein



"A New Era of Shopping"


The Promotion of Wome
n's Pleasure in London's West End, 1909-1914
~Erika D. Rappaport~

Love Thyself at Selfridge's & Co.

Description of Topic: Rappaport examines a redefined meaning of shopping and a woman’s place in a prewar urban society. In particular, the opening of Harry Gordon Selfridge’s Oxford Street Department Store which emerged during a “new era” shaped by decades of economic and cultural transformations. She is interested in Selfridge’s role as an American owner and his influences in architectural styles, window displays, and creative marketing strategies, helping him achieve success within an expanding English commerce culture. Prior in the Victorian Era, shopping was considered in negative connotations as being “wasteful”, “indulgent” and even “immoral.” She examines how Selfridge rewrote the meaning of pleasure and what it meant for women to take part in, having their own needs meet in a new, innovative way. Most importantly, marketing strategies used through publicity such as print media to turn notions from the past and make them into legitimate pleasures. She looked closely at how transforming anxieties into profit through paid advertising became the success of Selfridge’s & Co. To do this, she looks at a range of sources, from early advertisements in newspapers, journals, and articles which illustrate a promise of satisfaction, indulgence, and excitement. Modern shopping became pleasurable and respectable, a notion of self-fulfillment and independence for women no longer feeling like a necessity. Underlying the usage of mass retailing and media, she carefully examines how Selfridge created the largest and most publicized department store which became the center of urban society in a time of social and cultural changes.


Store opened and changed shopping in London forever in 1909


Customers in line and waiting to enter the department store


Shoppers were able to get a taste of what was inside by viewing the large window displays that the Selfridge & Co. department store was known for



Shoppers crowding the counters on a busy day at Selfridge's


Summary of Key Points: Rappaport underlines the importance promoting the store emphasizing on women, their pleasures, and the city. Selfridge’s central strategy was challenging the pleasures of pre-existing urban commercial culture in order to showcase shopping from labor to leisure. It now became something sought out for and desired with the press repeatedly featuring consumption as public, sensual entertainment. She describes how featured ads and articles linked shopping to romance, novelty and tradition, sensuality, and consumption. In other words, it became a “home away from home,” shopping part of lifestyle as “a time of profit, recreation, and enjoyment.” One important part of her essay is that Selfridge sought a way to design and publicize the department store as a mixture of both elite and mass culture. While most ads were focused on immediate, forms of consumption, she examines how shopping became newly represented moreover as a unique female, urban pleasure in the West End although limited in areas largely due to political, social, and economic limits placed on women in public life. Selfridge’s was successful because he was able to give women access to both a public and private life through promises of escapism from a women’s place in the home.



To this day, window displays are still seen as shoppers and tourist walk through London's West End


A window display during the holiday season


Selfridge's in 2009 with all the windows lit up pink for a charity campaign

Discussion Questions
  1. Selfridge's was described as an "architectural masterpiece" from interior to exterior and as "A Pleasure-A Pastime- A Recreation." How are today's malls in Corpus Christi or within Texas in general similar to these ideas? How are they different?
  2. The essay describes that Selfridge's & Co. and other shopping experiences cater more toward women than they do men. Is this still the case in malls today? How and why?
  3. The opening of Selfridge's department store was both a largely publicized media event and visual, commercial spectacle that spread the social changes he inspired. What media accomplish this?

28 comments:

rhiannonmj said...

I think that the malls here in Corpus Christi are trying to re-establish the "pleasure, pastime, recreation" aspect of shopping; especially Padre Staples who has now adopted the moniker "La Palmera." By adding valet parking and taking out the Carrousel and the seemingly never-ending additions and renovations La Palmera is changing the face and hopefully the atmosphere of their customers' experience. It will be interesting to see if, after the changes are complete, the mall is successful in attaining that luxury feel they are so desperately reaching for.

jennifervaladez said...

I think the changes to the mall here in Corpus Christi will bring a new shopping experiecnce to customers. Adding an aquarium and a kids place upstairs where the food court use to be for the kids and even valet parking is something that will definalty attract customers to our mall.
Selfridge's idea of having " A Pleasure a Pastime a Recreation" was a great idea.

mfinley said...

I think that some malls in Texas are trying to portray the buildings as "architectural masterpieces". North Star Mall in San Antonio stands out in my mind. North Star Mall has a huge food court and lower level restaurant in the middle of the mall. Even La Palmera mall is trying to portrays themselves as a more prominent mall by bringing in stores such as Forever 21 and turning the horrible foot court into a kids play place. Hopefully, all of these changes will bring people back into La Palmera.

Raquel A said...

I think many of the malls throughout Texas are trying to go back to the days, as this presentation suggested, where malls were more of a destination than just a shopping stop. The Domain in Austin is a great example of an outdoor mall not only being for shopping. Atop the stores of the domain sit new high-dollar high-rise apartments. How convenient is that? Just a stroll down the stairs can lead residents to some of the most premier shopping, as well as popular restaurants in all of the city. The layout is genius and we will no doubt be seeing many more of this type in the upcoming years.

Bobby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobby said...

Tom's shoes (www.tomsshoes.com) come to mind with regard to media events aiding social change. For every pair of shoes purchased, the company donates a pair to a kid that needs shoes. Their website utilizes video clips meant to inspire folks to join their "One For One" movement...by simply buying shoes. The owner of the company has received a lot of press for his business model (which is designed to be more effective than a charity) and is constantly active in the media. On a side note...the shoes are surprisingly comfortable.

StephSellsCShells said...

Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas is definitely a spectacle of a monument. I wouldn't consider it a masterpiece simply because they have connotations with originals and the whole Roman architecture has been done before. That being said-the robotic statues are spectacular. This ties in to its atmosphere as being "A Pleasure-A Pastime-A Recreation." Caesar's is a Romanesque hotel/casino/mall that houses high end shops; seeing that everyone's a star in Vegas this would only make sense. The shopper of Caesar's can roam around the sparkly stores and converse with the well kept store attendants while the twinkling of slot machines dances in their ears. In between stores one can catch the moving statue show where Caesar drunkenly addresses the crowd and tells them to drink-eat and be merry. I consider that prime leisure.

A.J. Scherer said...

I think that shopping centers today are still geared more towards women than men. Most men do not enjoy going shopping especially shopping in malls. The companies know this and thus gear most of their advertisements towards women. In terms of the stores that are in malls, women are still their target customers.

Melinda said...

I agree that Selfridge's & Co. and other shopping experiences cater more toward women. That still exists today. Today many women can go to the mall and shop while getting a haircut and pedicure. Most of the stores in the mall cater to female consumers because many companys are aware that women can shop for hours and can look and buy from store to store. While men on the other hand just go in and out of the store because most men allready know what they are looking for. And most women look to get ideas of what to purchase which takes allot more time. Therefor it is logical that most malls should cater to women.

Katelyn said...

I grew up in a small town outside of austin, we would go to up to austin to go to the mall like every two months or something and when we did it would be an all day experience. We would eat lunch there, get ice cream there, shop of course, even see a movie. The "La Palmera" mall is a disappointment compared to what I am used to. I do nothing at la palmera but walk in and get what i need in the fastest way possible. Even though malls are geared toward women i remember seeing a lot more men in Barton Creek mall in austin then at La Palmera or the other one.

elackey said...

The mall in Corpus is equivalent to "architectural masterpiece" because
each store is able to freely design the interior how they feel it will
best be persuasive to their customers. Bath and Body Works for example,
has servile sinks around the store since it has soaps you can try. As well
as different perfumes and lotions to freely sample. Bath and Body works is
cutely decorated with lots of lights and each of the products are neatly
assorted. It could be a place that is over whelming but somehow its easy
to get around. Abercrombie is a disaster. Its darkly lite so its
impossible to see how much stuff cost, possibly planned? The over whelming
odor of perfumes is like a teenybopper using perfume for the first time. I
guess that this works for their customers. One of the most shopped at
store in Corpus, Forever 21 is designed to be some what "elegant" or hip,
with its huge chandelier and cool wallpaper. I use to always think who
ever designed it has to come design my apartment. But I don't really like
the lay out of all the clothes. Unlike bath and body works I feel its
extremely over whelming. They use to have it a little more under control
with color coordinating everything. The upper level makes sense it suppose
to the more dressy attire. One other store that I enjoy ( not in the CC)
the lay out is Urban Outfitters. Its a ware house looking interior and the
floor lay out of all the clothing makes has a good consistency going with
it. I think that depending on the store they they to have a lay out
suiting to its customers. They will incorporate the lighting, clothing lay
out, smells and ect. It just depends on who the style of the store

mgarcia44 said...

In my opinion, malls now in days are always changing, trying to be the biggest and with the best stores to attract new customers. It is true, malls are manly for women, but now they are making it were men can enjoy shopping to, by putting mens line in girl stores, and more sports orientated stores. The reason men dont want to go to the mall is manly because they want to save the money they worked for and spend it on something they need more then cloths or brand name shoes that cost more then the car payment. but the mall in corpus is trying to get on their feet and compete with these super malls, but malls are good, they bring in alot of revenue and its a social get together.

ashley said...

Over the years malls have become overrun by female advertising. When you walk into any mall across America it is a sea of women shopping, talking, and spending money. From the design of the building itself, down to the color choices are all scrutinized by executives to ensure women want to come and spend their dollar. Even though the malls have catered their attention to the female population, men are not to feel left out. Yes, they have been weeded out of the shopping mall experience, but they are given other options such as, Bass Pro, Cabelas, Gander mountain, Bait and tackle shops, gun stores, among others. Men might have been taken out of one venue, but were given several others to replace it.

aarismendez said...

The one mall that I kept thinking about during discussion was RiverCenter mall in San Antonio. The atmosphere, the river, the entertainment, and the dining are things that many people go to this particular mall to enjoy. It's the perfect place for "pleasure, pastime, and recreation". Malls nowadays seem to have to have at least one big attraction besides the stores in order to attract and keep customers.

kmarcus62 said...

I believe that La Palmera is trying to become something that doesnt fit Corpus Christi. Valet Parking? I hope they are not making the mall nicer for tourists, because people dont come to Corpus for the shopping, they come for the beach. With other things unique to Corpus (Lex, Aquarium, Beach) It would be hard for La Palmera to grab tourists from those three places.

KristaBishop said...

I think that Forever 21 is a great example of how a lot of malls cater towards womon. Our forever 21 is two stories and is overwelming with clothes. The guys section looks extremely small and has minimal clothes. I think that malls do this because a women will usually go buy the outfits their significant other wears. Men dont shop for pleasure so the women do it for them. I think the designs of malls cater towards women. For example, the lighting in stores, the colors, the layout. I believe women are more intrigued by the interior of a place then a man would be.

NatalieRenee said...

I think that Malls are trying to capture that old time "this is where you want to be" mentality more specifically La Palmera mall. La Palmera other wise known as Padre Staples was more of a mall not focussed on the pleasure factor of their shoppers but rather a assortment of shops gathered in one location now they are transferring their image to be more pleasing to their shoppers. la Palmera is more directing it's shoppers to pleasing their shoppers by adding play places for the kids, a expanded food court with a variety of foods as well as adding curb side appeal for those passer bys. By making the mall appeal as somewhere you want to take you kids and spend the day the mall is creating not only profit for itself but also gives their customers a feeling of belonging, which may lead them to go more regularly.

Matt said...

2. Many malls and other shopping centers cater mainly to women instead of men, and this is still true today. Women have more stores that are targeted directly at them. Men generally don't favor shopping, and might even be embarrassed doing it.

Kristen said...

I think that malls are still geared towards women because woman are still seen as the primary shoppers. Woman are still the ones that are supposed to buy things for the house and women are supposed to be wearing the lastest thing. Most men dont really care about what they wear most of the time woman are always worried about how they lookI think thats why there are more stores for women than men.

jprice21 said...

Spending money has now become a national past time. Families gather together on the weekends to go out to the mall and buy new trinkets for themselves. Women of all ages seem to be flocking to the stores in ever increasing numbers, ready to spend "Whatever it takes" to get the right close. I personally have friends that will go and spend every cent of money that they have on clothes and shoes and accessories and then have the stones to complain about how broke they are. Time to take a hint and learn some money management. I am not going to claim to be some savings savvy money connoisseur but I know that I love money, and I love to buy expensive toys, but at least I know that if I can't afford it I won't be buying it.

Bethany Woodard said...

The changes to the malls here in Corpus seem a little much for me. I like that they want to make the mall a more leisurely place to walk and shop, but the addition of valet parking seems a little far-fetched. Corpus is a beach town, and trying to make the mall a luxury place like malls in bigger urban areas doesn't make sense to me. If it looks like the plans at the end of it all, I am interested to have a new shopping experience.

Lauren Self said...

One of my favorite places to shop is La Cantara mall in San Antonio. When shopping there it feels more pleasureable than it does to shop in Corpus Christi. La Cantara has a more equal balance of stores for men and women. I think that La Palmera is going in the right direction to creating a better shopping experience, and I hope that it is not such an eye sore for Corpus Christi once the remodeling is over.

katie parry said...

Today's malls have not varied from the original idea of being more than just a shopping center. Walk into any mall in Texas and you'll see groups of kids walking around together and families eating in the food court. "Mall-walkers" have redefined the idea of "a recreation." Movie theatres are another example of a pastime added to shopping centers.

Grady said...

I think a great example of shopping centers as recreation today is the outlet mall. They build these huge compounds with hundreds of retailers, and they have stores that cater to everyone's needs and wants. People can spend an entire day at an outlet mall shopping, eating, and being entertained.

Maya said...

Definetly, the malls have been, are, and always will be foremost catering to women. Women are the group that "needs" and "likes" to shop. Shopping experience gives women an opportunity not only to shop, but also to spend time and bond with family and friends.

KG said...

I also believe that malls are trying to be "architectural masterpieces." A mall that comes to mind for me is La Cantera. If I'm in San Antonio that is the mall I usually go to. The atmosphere is different than any other I've experienced and It feels like I'm in a different world sometimes. I think its great to have an outdoorsy mall and instead of stopping at a food court, stopping at a restaurant to grab a bite to eat adds to the leisure of shopping.

Travis said...

I think building something big and new is the way to attract more attention to whats inside. I worked in the mall for a two month period and can vouch that women are the main proprietors roaming. The men who are there are usually with a female. So malls marketing more to women is a good idea. La palmera is an interesting case of the city trying to revitalize its image.

chris_colmenero said...

MALLS ARE GOING BACK TO THE OLD PLEASURE MALLS OF WAY BACK....IT SEEMS AS THOUGH AS THE OUTSIDE STYLE SUCH AS LA CANTERA IN ATX IS THE NEW THING THAT IS MAKING ITS WAY BACK. ALSO THERE IS THE DOMAIN IN AUSTIN THAT EVEN ADDS LIVING TO THE EQUATION WHERE YOU CAN RENT AN APARTMENT ABOVE THE MALL CREATING A WHOLE NEW EXPERIENCE AND CONVENIENCE.