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January 5, 2018

Trends and Insights Interview – New York

Written By Gemma Hurst
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The city that never sleeps, home to our favourite festive movie classics and some of the biggest and brightest Christmas trees in the world – New York is our most exciting Trends and Insights destination yet. Working from the largest department stores to the quirkiest independents, our Head of Design Gemma fills us in on her experiences in NYC, and shares her thoughts on the festive campaigns of the Big Apple at Christmas.

So why did we choose New York in particular for Trends and Insights research?

As one of the biggest cities in the world, New York felt like an obvious choice for our Trends and Insights visit. Known for its immersive and expansive Christmas displays and homegrown festive spirit, NYC is home to hundreds of large retail stores and some of the biggest names in fashion, beauty and technology. The numerous flagship stores were also a vital draw to the city, as researching major departments such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Barneys is crucial for understanding international Christmas campaigns, in comparison to the traditional British Christmas.

How many shops did you see during your visit?

With so many stores to choose from, it was difficult trying to condense our list down to the essentials! We visited so many stores in our stay in New York, with Bloomingdales, Barneys, Macy’s, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman becoming the priority as time went on. We also explored a few of the independent Christmas market stalls, as unlike the stalls of the UK, many were produced by big name brands and well known companies – forming exciting pop up stores and experiences. One of the most surprising elements of our New York trip was just how much ground we covered, and how many shops we were able to explore in a short space of time – providing us with plenty of research and information to bring home and analyse.

Which shops in particular stood out to you from this city?

From those we visited, Bergdorf Goodman was definitely a standout store. In contrast to many of the more traditional retail Christmas campaigns around New York, Bergdorf felt like an entirely new concept. With bold striking window displays, and almost controversial themes appearing from the glittering skeletons and carnival-esque mannequins, it was a celebration of the weird and wonderful, rather than the classic and traditional.

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Did you pick up on any initial trends from the shop windows before you went in store?

From simply glancing at some of the store windows in New York, it was easy to spot some initial themes coming out – with bold, vibrant colours, patterns and energetic, unexpected designs catching your eye as you walked down the street. But there was also the feeling of a divide, splitting the Christmas campaigns of the cities into 2 halves, one of traditionalism and nostalgia, the other of embracing new and alternative experiences this Christmas.

Where there any stand out colour themes that caught your eye?

One of the most interesting elements of the Christmas campaigns in New York was the use of colour. Whilst each individual store did adhere to their own colour branding, there was definitely a sense of intense vibrancy and vividity in the overall colour spectrum of the city. Colours in store windows clashed, and were drawn in exotic patterns, creating a real sense of party and excitement. Every colour was bold and extreme, catching the eye of the passersby and almost shocking them into stopping and staring.

How do you think the retail trends you picked up on this Christmas will be reflected in 2018?

Following on from the bold, in your face, statement campaigns of this Christmas, as they reflect what has been a very culturally impactful year, it’s likely that many of the campaigns next year will carry similar messages. Being bold is becoming more than just a fashion choice, and this is beginning to be reflected in the personality of the retail Christmas campaign of 2018. With this in mind, the year ahead is likely to build upon that and carry even more ‘pow’!

What do you think we can expect from Christmas Trends and Insights 2018?

One of the biggest visible differences to expect from the Trends and Insights of this year and next is the introduction of Colour of the Year: Ultra Violet. Another bold colour, this is a shade symbolising power, royalty and intensity, potentially hinting at another culturally powerful year ahead. Nostalgia, tradition and home pride are also a common trait to find in Christmas campaigns, across the world, so we’re fully expecting to see a unique variation of this trend appearing in Christmas Trends 2018 as well.

One element found in this year, particularly from a US perspective, likely to be a lot softer is the reference to diversity and equality. Whilst many campaigns this year have celebrated moves towards increased diversity in culture, next year – whether by simple acceptance of the people, or alternatively the oppression of Donald Trump, it’s unlikely that it will play such a heavy role next Christmas.

To find out more about our Trends and Insights, click here to download our 2017 document.