Window Displays, Retailers, the Economy–Oh My!

Last night I walked around Manhattan late at night so I could take pictures of many of the holiday windows in the city. I mostly kept to 5th Avenue, so I can’t include some stores (like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s) but you can really see how the economy has affected retailers. Usually window displays for the holidays are grandiose, lavish affairs that dazzle and enthrall. This year, many stores slapped some red paint on a wall with maybe a snowflake or a bow thrown around here or there, and overall the effect wasn’t just boring, it was underwhelming. For others, it was just more of the same (sorry, Cartier). Of course, it was the giant retailers who could afford to really “do it up” while the smaller shops are obviously scraping the bottom of the recession barrel. For the record, I don’t celebrate Christmas or any holiday really, except for Halloween, but as an artist/designer I’ve always enjoyed taking in the creativity of the artists who conceptualize and breathe life into a store’s display. I’ve secretly always wanted to design and build window displays myself to be honest. While I understand it’s all a part of the marketing of commercialism, you can’t deny the art of it–that’s what I love.

I have to say that the art was severely lacking, but there were a couple of exceptions. Needless to say, the windows at Barney’s were very cool thanks to the efforts of the Lady Gaga Workshop there (even though with her flair I did expect a little more). Bergdorf Goodman had pretty cool windows if you don’t mind the taxidermy look and Sak’s Fifth Avenue had some interesting ideas, even if they weren’t really holiday inspired. Most retailers seemed to “phone it in” as they say, but I get it. These days, who has the budget? However, as any artist can attest, creativity isn’t something that’s defined by the almighty dollar. Paint is fairly inexpensive but instead of WOW-ing us with some cool design, I saw many one colored walls with nary a thought put into the creative process. That really deflated my excitement and surely that doesn’t help the cause of drawing in the holiday shoppers. Like I said, I’m no fan of commercialism, but every retailer represents multiple jobs–people rely on that industry like any other to put a roof over their head, clothes on their backs and food on the table. Window displays are street level advertising at it’s best (or worst as the case might be) and if you want to find success on a tight budget then being creative is key. I wish everyone luck in making a buck this holiday season. I hope you’re happy and healthy and can enjoy the season with family and friends. May you all be blessed with good fortune in this harsh economic climate and may 2012 bring even greater blessings. On that note, I leave you with several of the holiday windows I enjoyed.



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