Patrice Riemens on Mon, 15 Mar 2004 20:47:22 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Temporary ... Shopping Zones!

Fans of Thomas Frank (or is it the other way round? ;-), rejoice! There is 
really no end to capitalism's recuperative prowess:


Commes des Garcons Guerilla Store

The ever-inventive and playful Rei Kawakubo's latest probe into the 
bleeding edge of the buying psyche. She's just opened this store in 
Berlin, Germany. It's the first example of provisional retailing by an 
established fashion house: the store plans to close in one year, even if 
it's making money.

Instead of spending millions to build or renovate a building, Comme des 
Garcons spent just $2,500 to fix up a former bookshop in the historic 
Mitte district. Because the company doesn't plan to stay long in the 
700-foot-square space, it didn't bother to remove the name of the previous 
tenant from the windows. 

Advertising consisted of 600 posters placed around the city, and word of 
mouth. Said Adrian Joffe, who conceived the store with his wife and 
partner Rei Kawakubo, "Of course it seems outrageous to close something 
once it becomes a success, and I think we will be successful." Of course, 
it helps to have a story about your venture appear on the front page of 
the New York Times, as this one did.

Joffe continued, "To be creative at anything takes an unbelievable amount 
of energy, and the minute you start to feel content with your success is 
when you lose it. You don't want to get too comfortable."

All 20 stores the company plans to open within the next year, including 
one in Brooklyn, will adopt the same guerilla strategy, disappearing after 
a year.

The Comme des Garcons Guerilla Store flouts conventional wisdom in almost 
every way. Said Nancy Koehn, a professor at Harvard Business School, 
"Guerilla marketing is the wave of the future. Red Bull and Trader Joe's 
have built their followings by word of mouth."

The sense in the fashion industry that nothing lasts for long has become 
more and more apparent. Tom Ford, whose career at Gucci will end next 
month, was asked recently if he thought people would remember him for his 
work there. "They will forget," he said with a snap of his fingers. "This 
is today. This is the world. Six months, a year, two years. Whatever 
happens goes away."

For years, corporations have recognized that "the medium is the message." 
But as the sheer glut of information clogs up the sensory channels, making 
traditional news media less effective - American consumers are bombarded 
with 750,000 individual advertisements a year - marketing experts say how 
a product is sold can break through the clutter. Said Seth Matlins, a 
branding expert, "What you'll see is that distribution will become the 

Joffe and Kawakubo noted when they visited Berlin last summer that young 
consumers attitudes are shifting radically: content and product now count 
for more than image. 

Their new store, whose monthly rent is $700, gives Commes des Garcons an 
inexpensive way to channel avant garde pieces from the runway, sell off 
clothes from past seasons, and reduce inventory.

Said Matlins, the branding expert, "One of the things we're seeing with 
kids is how much they're buying from eBay."

Claudia Skoda, a knitwear designer shopping at the Guerilla Store, said, 
"I think people are tired of things you can get everywhere in the world."

bookofjoe's World Tour 2004 will be visiting this store. No question it's 
filled with potential joeheads, joebabes, and joesluts.


(from the blog (cached by Google), March 10 entry
- but I saw it first (sic) in Le Monde dated Feb 26...

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