I love Christmas. For most people, it’s a chance to catch up with friends and family and enjoy some festive treats, but for the team here at Equator, it’s also the most exciting time of the year for spotting trends and supercharging our creativity.
While the average consumer is busy finalising their preparations for this Christmas, Equator teams across the globe have been exploring stores this December to spot what’s hot for next year and look ahead to Christmas 2019. For the Manchester office’s stylist, Dawn Wormald, and I, that meant a research trip to London.
Nowhere does Christmas quite like London. It’s a feast for the senses as brands and stores compete to bring us the their most dazzling and innovative must-have creations across all departments – technology, fashion, interiors and, of course, food and wine.
And this year’s Christmas experience in London didn’t disappoint. Peacock feathers lit the way on New Bond Street, and giant Nutcrackers stood to attention in Fortnum and Mason, referencing the new movie. Bugs are creeping into the Christmas vocabulary too, with shimmering beetle baubles and butterfly ornaments.
Indeed, there have been lots of movie influences in Christmas this year. The Queen biopic, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ provides the theme for the illuminations on Carnaby Street with lyrics soaring above as shoppers air-guitar along the route. The music theme continues with ‘Selfridges Rocks Christmas’ as multiple Santas strike glam rock poses in the windows and atop pianos on the shop floor, all complemented by in-store Graphics that have a punk ‘Jamie Reid’-style anarchy.
Another trend we loved this Christmas is personalised gifts as you wait – a great way for stores to create an in-store experience you can’t get online. From adding monograms to gifts in Paperchase to creating Christmas wrapping paper in Selfridges, it’s exciting and experiential. We loved selecting a template design and walking away with our bespoke wrapping 15 minutes later.
As packaging specialists we also sought out interesting examples of what’s out there in terms of substrates and finishes. As we become ever more environmentally aware, it’s great to see embossing and foil treatments on card being used to create impact while allowing brands to ditch single use plastic.
Of course, no foray into a London Christmas would be complete without exploring luxury fashion; after all, what we see on the catwalk this year will be on the high street in the months ahead. Harrods remains home to the world’s most aspirational and glamorous brands so the colours, textures and patterns we saw there were keenly noted to inform our mood boards next year. Even the fabric of the building is inspiring, with sculptural glass walls, beaten metal panels and elevators like jewel boxes. My personal favourite was the new menswear Superbrands department, with galleried stores and boutique hotel-like corridors creating a Gentlemen’s Club store experience.
The influence of tradition sits in sharp contrast to the use of technology to support the in-store brand experience, notably the use of LED screens with motion graphics to underline colours and themes of campaigns. Mac cosmetics used this in a particularly striking way.
Heading back to Euston laden with samples and with our cameras packed with images for inspiration, our journey home was full of chatter about everything we’d seen. The next step on the journey will be to compile our trends report and share it across the business.
- Martin Orme, Creative Director