Bond Street, a long corridor of fine shopping with black Mercedes S-Classes lined up across the pavement reminiscent of stranded killer whales. Inside the beach coloured interiors of the cars are patient chauffeurs awaiting their employer to return with small bags containing goods the likes of Smythsson, TOD’s and Cartier.
Opposite the well renowned Cartier store is Ralph Lauren’s flagship store that brings warmth to the world luxury retail where an ordinary experience is hearing the echo of your shoes clapping against marble floors, while sales assistant with poor attitudes are visually scanning you in search of evidence that a potential customer is standing before their eyes. A slight hint wood and amber in the air soothes the mind as the mahogany walls and greenery indoors replicates the feel of a Berkeley Square town house. Even the security guards fit in thanks to sharp and dapper outfits different from the usual security guards wearing in near disposable £45 suit from Primemark. The store assistants need no introduction as their highly inviting outfits made up of Ralph Lauren’s own clothes, makes for a worthy source for inspiration.
A few footsteps around the corner of building is a peculiar clothing retailer in a gorgeous building, which interior suggest that it previously was a bank or a governmental building. The purity and simplicity of an official governmental building has preserved on the outside, where there is nothing to suggest that it’s worth while taking a step into the open doors revealing a very dim interior. Surviving solely on word-of-mouth discovering the store happen either through the retailers website or a mention from a stoked customers. It’s the same principle as a big black birthmark on the back, fully visible it is all out in the open but until someone points it out to you, you have no idea that it’s in fact a cancer tumour. The mystery retailer is Abercrombie & Fitch.
Without the support of local advertising A&F have managed to make a name for themselves by dazzling European shoppers with a unique experience not available elsewhere. And sure is the experience unique, as their London store is a terrific place to get your wallet drained in the most rouge. The irony is that the prices in store makes RL look like a bargain. Unlike in the US where Ralph Lauren is the more expensive brand, A&F have simply switched out Dollar sign for the Sterling Pound one on the price tags. An overwhelming majority of their clothes are therefore more expensive than similar products at Ralph Lauren. Sweaters priced at £250 certainly puts the brand in the same price spectrum as Armani Exchange. Astonishingly the severely inflated price tags don’t deter customers from shopping base as the shop is crowded with spending happy tourists during summer, some days with excruciatingly long queues inside.
The popularity is well called for, how can you not want to be in a store where female store assistants are all pretty wearing low cut jeans and greet you with a cute smile, it’s heaven in there. An Olympic is advised to bring along because the darkness is beyond imaginable. Don’t kid yourselves, this store is darker than any pub or bar on earth. The darkness is so deep that what might be a green polo might surprisingly turn out to be cyan when you get to inspect it in natural light. The thumping music is blasted loudly through speakers in all areas of the shop either makes you feel good or tear your eardrums into pieces. In other words it’s a club that sell clothes instead of pint glasses with coke and Jack Daniels.
The overwhelming percentage of blond female store assistants for eye candy do encourage shopping, at the cost of their own well being. Working in near darkness with loud rock and house music that might not even be of your liking, must be very distressing. Add the lack of windows and the unbearable noise level for having a discussion with a customer or co-worker, and the store must be hells pit for the staff unless they enjoy working in such atrocious conditions. The store manger could probably not ask for more as there were an unprecedented amount of eager shoppers lined up outside the store during the first days of the Christmas sale. In fact the queue stretched well into Savile Row that’s around the bend. No other retailer in London can rival such hysteria except for Louis Vuitton which had their inventory of women’s designer bags cleared out by hundreds of East Asian visitors who were unconsciously helping the struggling London retail sector. It’s now proven that sexy sales assistants make men with big wallets shell out money as even men in their 30s feel cool and proud walking around in a T-shirt with the letters A and F on the chest. Evidently the world is a better place if retailers wouldn’t replicate the same store concept as Abercrombie & Fitch. People should be hired on the basis of their personality and experience rather than getting called in for an interview thanks to a pretty Facebook profile picture or getting a job because the human resource manager love tight their bum looks in Miss Sixy jeans.