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VM choice: H&M's breathing Oxford Street window

As part of H&M’s fashion recycling week, its Oxford Street store has an installation created by Centre for Sustainable Fashion students at the London College of Fashion, part of the University of Arts, London.

As part of H&M’s campaign to reduce, recuse and recycle fashion merchandise, H&M invites customers to return unwanted H&M clothes for recycling. In Oxford Street, one of eight windows across the country, LCF students Yewon Choe, Yegee Choe, Youjeong Cho and Dahea Park have created a breathing window. Made in collaboration with PCB Technical Solutions it features 180 breathing pockets, each covered by a recycled garment which gently inflates and deflates.

While the idea of using breathing movement in windows or in-store display is not a first, this may well be the first to link movement to sustainability. Movement, as one of visual merchandising’s two key means of gaining customers’ attention (the other being colour), works because it is unexpected. Customers’ usual expectation is that visual merchandising is static. When it is not it attracts increased attention.

Using a colour-block theme, the graduated display of T-shirts and sweatshirts moves from cream on the left through turquoises and greens, to blues, purples, and browns on the right. This natural world palette, reminiscent of the world’s skies and oceans, seems to be rhythmically inhaling and exhaling. Interestingly, its also showcases the myriad colour variations that H&M has offered in previous seasonal collections.

The caption references recent pollution level findings in London, which indicated Oxford Street is one of the most polluted streets in the city because of traffic using the street. Levels are down as the oldest and most polluting vehicles have been removed from the roads. The students’ work is credited in the window. 

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