Thursday, October 30, 2008

Peter Alexander, the store

Our Worldwide Head of Design at Saatchi & Saatchi is Derek Lockwood. It was Derek who designed the Lovemarks book and who is now helping to take Lovemarks in store. I’ve always liked stores that take the name of the person who first had the idea. Australian Peter Alexander, who opened his first leisure wear store in LA last week, is in the class. Shoppers now expect an experience that resonates with their own personalities and aspirations. I call this creating a theatre of dreams and that is just what Derek and his people did for Peter Alexander. Their central idea was simple: the different emotional responses to leisure. They then designed a store format based on a number of alcoves, each speaking to a part of the leisure experience. There’s a kids’ section and a place for men who come in with their wives or partners – very smart. How many times do men end up in a store that is essentially for women and find themselves just standing around waiting? Not in Peter Alexander. They can wander into an alcove where any guy would be happy to spend some time and, importantly for the store, some cash too. The clever layering of colors, textures and ideas onto shoppers’ lives is enhanced by a strong dose of visual humor. I like the series of gold-framed light boxes on the ceiling that show clouds scudding about above your head.

Peter Alexander started his retail life in Australia as the pyjama guy. His great idea was to create pyjamas you could go to the store in. This idea has now been extended into a wider leisure range and that’s what you get to see in the LA store. You also get to see the personality and passions of Peter Alexander himself in the objects selected and the style. Nothing, in my experience, goes down better with shoppers than personality and passion. If you are in LA, the Peter Alexander store is a great opportunity to see them both in action.