The Shop at Bluebird marks festival season with campaign, designer collaborations
The importance of festival season to fashion stores is growing year after year but it is not only mass-market initiatives like H&M’s link-up with Coachella that highlights this fact. The upper end of the market is also festival-ready and the latest example of this is The Shop at Bluebird, which launches a major festival season-linked campaign and product initiative on Thursday.
Its March to the Beat campaign sees the King’s Road flagship being transformed. It has been turned into a “rock haven” reminiscent of the famous street’s heyday in the 60s and 70s “when the King’s Road was the epicentre of Mod and counterculture fashion in London,” the retailer said.
As well as the general in-store theme, there is an installation from festival favourite Soul Sergeants. The brand, which creates quirky pieces and one-offs, is selling marching band hats, 'bang bang' body cages and other items in the store, while a pop-up shop from footwear designer Terry de Havilland carries the era-defining designer’s signature platform shoes.
And the extent of the retailer’s commitment to the theme can be seen from some of the other products being sold under the March to the Beat umbrella.
Also taking part are ready-to-wear brands that will be at the front of the store for the campaign’s duration, including the colourful SS17 Rixo collection and Racil’s Rock Legends offer, which is inspired by superstars such as David Bowie and Mick Jagger.
The retailer has also invited a group of British designers to each design an exclusive band T-shirt, sales of which will help support a variety of charities. Each design embodies a different aspect of the Mod and counterculture movements, from Alistair James’s whimsical punk-inspired tee to Zoe Jordan’s sleek and simple design. Racil, Rixo and Rockins have also converted their season’s style onto T-shirts while Isa Arfen channels summer’s cold shoulder trend.
And the project includes Belize’s folk printed and embroidered line that pays homage to the artistic movements of the 1970s, plus a limited edition of 20 exclusive customised denim shirts from MiH, emblazoned with festival badges in the form of lightning bolts and pastel florals. Finally, denim specialist Rockins will be bringing its well-known taxi in to complete the installation in-store.
The retailer has been working on the theme for around three months with the original idea having been thought up some months before following the SS17 runway shows. Claire Miles, head of The Shop at Bluebird, told Fashion Network that with many labels embracing the 60s and 70s, “wide-legged suiting, band T-shirts and androgynous statement pieces [were] front and centre of [our] buy.”
And she added that “music has been topical and is always inspirational. We wanted to do something on-brand and relevant for the King’s Road and so nothing was better than some fun and theatre, courtesy of Soul Sergeants. They are friends of The Shop at Bluebird so we are really happy to be collaborating.”
Having pioneered the special project approach last summer with its Culture and Craftsmanship theme, the store now aims to launch four such campaigns a year.
Miles said: “Culture and Craftsmanship was a great success. We saw strong sales performance from exclusive and special brands temporarily stocked specifically for the pop-up.”
But she also said this is the first time that the retailer has specifically marked festival season with a curated offer, although it seems likely that it will not be the last with Miles adding that “Festival reaches so many different categories and is really important to us.”
The retailer is promoting the initiative digitally through its #marchtothebeat hashtag and has also been speaking to a lot of media surrounding the launch. “With festival season around the corner and publications working on festival dressing, this is the perfect fit,” Miles told us.
The theme also kicks off Thursday with a launch party at the store in collaboration with Soul Sergeants.
It will be the first time some of the labels have collaborated with a major retailer to product special items and for Alistair James, it is a double first as the label is also new to the store.
The designers behind the brand, Nicholas Alistair Walsh and David James Wise, have both have worked on collaborations in their previous roles at Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh and see it as an important part of establishing the label.
“Collaboration, in particular with UK manufacture, is key to our brand’s ethos,” Wise told us. “Working with The Shop at Bluebird, an intimate store in the heart of London, brings us full circle with this.”
Walsh added: “As a new brand this is our first project with a store, which was very exciting for us. From our industry background we are both quite experienced in doing such projects for others, so to finally taking the step into doing that for our own brand was really something special for us.
“We have only been on the shop floor for around a week but I do know the initial response has been extremely positive with the Darling Shirt from our SS17 collection being the most popular with customers.”
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