Fellowship At London College of Fashion’s A Personal Narrative by

Fellowship At London College of Fashion’s
Centre for Fashion, The Body & Material Culture
A Personal Narrative by
Dr. Joseph H. Hancock, II
I would like to thank Dr. Julie Mostov, Anuja Mehra, the Grant Committee, and the Office of
International Programs for supporting my fellowship at the London College of Fashion. Next, I
would like to express gratitude to Dean Sabinson the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts
& Design Faculty Development Committee for their support. And finally, I would like to show
appreciation to the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Fashion, The Body & Material
Culture for the wonderful experience of working in the centre.
During June of 2009, I was fortunate to be awarded the research fellow position at the London
College of Fashion in their Centre for Fashion, the Body & Material Culture. During my visit, I
was responsible for conducting research in the area of experiential branding and retail. In
addition, I was asked to give a keynote speech on my new book Brand/Story: Ralph, Vera,
Johnny, Billy and Other Adventures in Fashion Branding that was recently published by
Fairchild Publications.
Now, I am probably one of the few scholars in the world that can consider analytical shopping as
one method for informational data collection. However, retail stores are one of the most
important primary sources for my fieldwork investigations into the world of experiential
branding. For this research project, I chose Topshop/Topman (figure 1) and Alfred Dunhill
(figure 2) as the primary spots to conduct most of my work. These two stores were chosen
because of their established reputations as British based retailers. More importantly, both stores
represent the ideologies of British culture. For my final paper that will be published in 2010, I
will be reporting on the Topshop/Topman Flagship Store on Oxford Street in London and the
Alfred Dunhill Flagship Home Store that was once the home of the Duke of Westminster.
In addition to my researching both of these store locations, I was asked to give a keynote talk on
my new book Brand/Story: Ralph, Vera, Johnny, Billy and Other Adventures in Fashion
Branding (figure 3). This text examines!how retailers, manufacturers, and designer labels grab
an individual’s interest. Fashion branding is not just about specific products. For consumers,
branding tells the story and creates the identity for a product, a person, and company. My book
Brand/Story looks at what a fashion brand is about and why companies advertise they way they
do. It enables the reader to think critically about branding- both the medium and the messageand not simply take advertisements and brands at face value. For example, how do the window
displays at Uniqlo (figure 4) and Harvey Nichol’s (figure 5) reflect popular culture and
demonstrate experiential retailing strategies. Or why does Hamley’s (figure 6) a London based
toy store choose to use colorfully dressed greeters at the entrance of their store, as opposed to
Abercrombie & Fitch who uses sexy coeds (figure 7)? All of these retailing strategies reflect
popular culture, and allow for us to see why these retailers are successful. My research attempts
to explain why and how each of these “selling methods” is successful or possibly fails to make a
connection to the customer.
Figure 1. Both the Topshop and Topman Entrances to the Flagship Store in London.
Figure 2. The Alfred Dunhill Store in London.
Figure 3. My Keynote Speech.
Figures 4 and 5. The display windows at Uniqlo (above) and Harvey Nichol’s (below) distinctly
reflect popular culture and experiential retailing.
Figures 6 and 7. The greeters at Hamley’s and Abercrombie & Fitch not only reflect “characters”
from popular culture, they also reflect branding strategies and consumer markets.