Saturday, 6 March 2010
Westfields- The great debate.
This time last year the much hyped up Westfield was opened in Shepherds Bush, London. It combined the high end designer with the high street must haves under one roof for the ultimate shopping experience. It is described as "The Pioneering shopping and leisure destination" and is Europe's biggest 'urban' shopping mall. Despite the prestige of Westfield these is still much debate as to the success of the concept. Does mixing the two worlds of shopping add to one but take away from the other?! Or does the combination create a whole new way of shopping, and an open mindedness about the place of high street and designer together?!
For those of us that love a bargain as well as a bit of indulgence this is the ideal place to shop. No tube hopping or navigating busy London streets in order to tick the hit list of stores we want to browse. You can go from New Look to Dior and on to Topshop without having to leave the area. Westfield makes designer more accessible and less intimidating for us mere mortals who can only dream of having the latest celebrity must haves at the drop of a hat. There is definitely something here for everyone and it is a totally new shopping experience of most. We are used to the likes of West Quay, or The Bullring Centre which are the face of the modern urban mall combining all our favourite stores under one roof. But even these state of the art shopping centres don't boast luxury like Westfield. Perhaps they have the odd designer jewellery store, but nothing like 'The Village' In Westfield.
There is definitely something about the combination of high street and designer that makes a more comfortable shopping experience and gives designer stores a place in modern shopping however, a lot of people argue that putting designer stores in a mall takes away the luxury side of the brand. If you regularly shop is designer stores, you are used to the exclusive service that this type of retail provides. To visit the same brand in a mall definitely doesn't have that same sense of worth or appeal. Although Westfield as a destination is a lovely shopping experience, it doesn't have much on the charm of Old Bond street. Perhaps by putting designer stores in the mall it gives an aspirational side of shopping to us high street lovers that maybe isn't attainable in the 'actual' shopping world but it can also take away from the experience of luxury shopping.
Away from what combining the two ends of shopping actually does for each other, there is the thought on what it does for Westfield as the destination it is. It sets it aside from other shopping malls further then just its size.
Recently I was catching up with a friend in London who works for Saatchi & Saatchi. As one of the biggest marketing firms in the world, they have taken on a contract with Westfield. He had been to visit and was making notes on ways that could help promote Westfield as a brand. He was talking to me about it being a destination in itself rather then an attraction and about how it was so clean and spacious he described it almost like an Island.
However he also noticed the different avenues and how the shops were semi separated. He mentioned considering using Westfield branded bags in all stores rather then the individual shops bags. This way it draws them all together and once people leave Westfield and head into central London, people will see the branding and think about it as a place to go for some retail therapy. While this could be a great move for Westfield and perhaps some of the smaller retail stores once again it perhaps takes away from the experience of shopping in designer stores. If I had saved up enough to buy the latest Miu Miu shoes I would definitely want people to know.
I think its fair to say that Westfield is a two way street, both adding and taking away reputation from specific stores. Westfield as a destination and brand has proved a success to date and with the increased marketing from Satchi & Satchi I am convinced its success will grow. Only time will tell as to how this works out and if the combination of designer and high street stores under one roof becomes a winning combination.
For more information about Westfields please visit www.westfield.com/London
For more information about Saatchi & Saatchi please visit www.saatchi.co.uk