Knightsbridge

Two famous department stores and a lot of smaller fashion boutiques especially for young people characterise the shopping area around the underground station. One of the boutiques seems to be staging a period of mourning:

<• fhe windows are totally black. It Is only possible to look Into the show window through the cut-out letters of the "SALE" announcement and the underlining, fhls transparent line also bears the Information: "fimL fi£®DCf IOIS". Only some of the visible mannequins are dressed In black trousers and a black f-shlrt. On the front of the f-shlrt Is the Imprint of an orange barcode, and Instead of the bar code numbers alongside the origin of the Item are the words: "sale soldes rebayas".

One department store has even dressed Its huge windows In black:

<• Each of these windows Is divided Into three parts by the frames of the glass panes. Seen from a distance, It seems as If the windows are totally blocked by a black nontransparent film. & white circle In the first third announces: "further Seductions". On coming closer we realise that we can see through the lines of an abstract drawing of a woman In the middle segment. Inside, there Is a female mannequin floating In an orange evening dress with her head bent downwards and her legs turned upwards, fhe mannequin Is attached to a rope, which Is wrapped around her. It Is not clear whether she Is dead or alive.

388 Of course, there are customers who are proud to have bought things 50% cheaper. But the target group in New Bone Street would not be so amused about getting a bag that questions their social status in public. But there are several discount retailers, where even the rich can buy without loosing social status.

389 Bruzzi/Gibson (2000:11).

<• fhe two show windows create an atmosphere of the presence of death, fhis is reached by the massiye use of black, fhe yiew of the customer is limited to incisions in the black surface. What we see in both cases is not attractive: A woman falling dead and some mannequins wearing things we cannot buy. fhe windows do not contain more information than that the seasonal sale is going on inside the stores, fhe following window gives us more detailed information:

<• fhis window is covered with two huge red posters, covering almost the entire surface. On the left poster is a list of items with the prices, for example: "CO&fS (from) 50, J&CK®?S (from) 30, ffiODSESS (from) 15, SKIfifS (from) 12, )". On the right poster is the following list: "sale, soldes, rebajas When we walk by, we realise that behind the posters are still the mannequins that normally wear the things listed on the poster. Sut they are all naked, and there are a large number of them hidden by the sales poster. & ladder leaning against the wall on another side is totally smeared with paint. In the entrance area inside the boutique are additional clothes racks, fhe garments on them are organised by price. Each of these clothes racks belongs to a different price category.

finally, we arrive at the corner of the other traditional department store, fhe nice show window dressing during the rest of the year is replaced by a black surface with a sales poster. Sut we are even more surprised by what we observe on the corner of the building:

<• fhe name of the department store is normally announced at the corner of the building. Its name is written vertically in huge letters, one below the other. "Numerous light bulbs form each letter. Sut when we look up toward the corner, above the colourful emblem of the store, all we see are the shadows of the letters, fhe letters of the name seem as if they had burned to ash. Out of these ashes emerge four new letters: "SALE". fhey are illumined with hundreds of light bulbs, the way the department store's name had been earlier.

fhe sacrifice of the brand name during the sales period is exemplified here. Although we usually speak of the power of brand names and their social effects,390 our example makes us conclude that the power of brands depends on their being sacrificed regularly, fhe death of the brand name becomes the starting point for a new way of theorising the sanctity of names in our consumer culture, fhe permanent transformation of brand

390 Pavitt (2001)

Death of

Images is a pattern that is overlaid by a mythical pattern of death and life. Although it is generally believed that brands must be unique and precise, what we learned from observing the seasonal sale showed us that also brands have to suffer a temporary state of "communitas" during the sales, fhey are burned to ashes in order to be reborn from them with the power of the new fashion collection.

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