Monday, September 5, 2011

Hollister Hype

Have you ever seen sharks in a feeding frenzy? I'm talking on TV, clearly.

I was in a shoppig mall nearby this week and witnessed similar behaviour in a shop, it was quite bizarre, I've never seen Germans in a shopping frenzy before.

The shop is "Hollister", which is the younger sibling to "Abercrombie & Fitch" (an American 'lifestyle' clothing brand aimed at 18-22 year olds, where Hollister is aimed at the 14-18 market).

I first noticed A&F last year when we went to New York, it was one of THE trendy labels to bring back. The store on 5th Avenue had queues of people waiting to get in (no seasonal sale involved, just casual shoppers) but the South Street Seaport despite having the same stock was less popular.

The first thing you notice about these shops is the smell; every worthwhile clothing brand has its own perfume to sell and in A&F it must be pumped out through the air conditioning units so pervasive is the stench. Then you notice the lighting, or rather the lack of lighting, it's dark like a sultry wine bar, the darkness enhanced by the heavy wooden shelving along the walls and the solid tables displaying folded clothes. The third thing you notice is the staff, young, cute (not an ugly mug amongst them) and generally skimpily clad (although I have yet to visit in the depths of winter, maybe they'll abandon their flipflops and cami tops for Uggs and appropriately branded hoodies?) Then there's the muzak, a pounding thumping beat at probably a scientifically proven tempo to induce shopping lust. Finally, there's the clothes themselves. You wont know what colour you're buying until you've bought it and if you need to try anything on you will have to queue for the pleasure and then have to queue to pay (this is after you've queued to get in and made full use of your elbows to get to the shelves.

A friend commented recently that she likes the Hollister shopping experience because all other shops in Germany render the process sterile, at Hollister it's anything but! Personally I found it bizarre, it was early morning and the shop was crowded, no queue to get in but elbows were needed to get to the shelves, and a long line stretched out of the changing rooms and away from the tills. The funny thing is that in Germany the lighting is brighter, it's by no means the 100 watt starkness of all other German shops but also it's not the coal mine darkness of England's Hollister either, I could actually make out the different colours of the clothes - that has to be a good thing!

I'm sure there will come a time, very soon, when Jas becomes more label conscious than she is already and wants to wear Hollister branded clothes, but until that moment I think I shall keep away, I'm clearly way outside of their target clientele!

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