The wooden bow tie by Willow and Warson.
The wooden bow tie by Willow and Warson.

Men’s Fashion Issue | Luxury is relative

Fendi, Jeremy Hackett and wooden bow ties by Willow and Warson underscore experiential gratification to all the brands

There is something seductive about good retail spaces. Something that draws you in, enchants you, transports you to another world, tempers your reasoning abilities…and makes you vulnerable to all kinds of overt and subtle messaging. All the retailer then has to do is place the product in front of you and point you towards the nearest cash register.

And I don’t mean this in a bad way.

After all, the entire purpose of retail space is to make you want to spend money. The ideal space is one that not only draws you in, but also makes you feel rewarded for having made the purchasing decision. Yet, it is amazing how rare this epiphanic, if you will, retail experience is.

One of my favourite retail spaces in the world is the Muji store inside the Selfridges department store in London. The minimalist Japanese brand does have standalone stores in London and elsewhere. But there is something about its space inside Selfridges that is particularly alluring.

First of all, I love everything Muji makes. From their cheapest fountain pen, to their trendy clothing that I can almost never fit into. Their notebooks, in particular, make me go weak in the knees every single time.

But there is more to the allure of this particular store. And I think it has to do with the fact that it is located inside Selfridges. Compared with the lavish prices that surround this island of Japanese tranquility, Muji’s prices seem entirely reasonable. Suddenly your brain starts playing tricks on you. ‘‘Go on," it says, ‘‘go on. Buy a notebook. And a pen. And that laptop sleeve. Go on. Look at those prices. Compare those to the other brands here. So reasonable! So good! So virtuous! How responsible of you to spend so wisely!"

Slowly the endorphins kick in, the pupils dilate, the pulse rate quickens. Fifteen minutes later, you’re walking down Oxford Street feeling entirely grand about things. Of course, you didn’t need another notebook. But it is so nice, you think to yourself. And it was such a bargain.

There is an element of this experiential gratification to all the brands we feature in this month’s special issue on men’s fashion. Fendi’s Pietro Beccari tells us how luxury is a lifestyle proposition and not just a matter of making and selling things. Jeremy Hackett has created a brand that combines traditional values with a gentle, subtle modern twist. And there are the wooden bow ties by Willow and Warson.

You’ll just have to see them to believe them.

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