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Burberry reveals new photography exhibition celebrating British social portraiture

One of the shots in Burberry's new Here We Are exhibition - Ken Russell's In Your Dreams, January 1955 © TopFoto / Ken Russell
One of the shots in Burberry’s new Here We Are exhibition – Ken Russell’s In Your Dreams, January 1955 © TopFoto / Ken Russell

Burberry is to stage a major photography exhibition celebrating British social portraiture and bringing together the work of over 30 of the 20th Century’s best documentary image-makers.

Here We Are, as it’s called, is curated by Christopher Bailey, president and ?chief creative officer at Burberry, and Lucy Kumara Moore, writer, curator and director of fashion book store, Claire de Rouen. It will be displayed over three floors of the brand’s ?new show venue at Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell, which will open to the public for the first time since its restoration.

It features works from photographers including Dafydd Jones, Bill Brandt, Brian Griffin, Shirley Baker, Jane Bown, Martin Parr, Jo Spence, Ken Russell, Charlie Phillips, Karen Knorr, Janette Beckman, Andy Sewell and more.

It also marks the start of a new creative collaboration with photographer Alasdair McLellan, who will be involved in capturing portfolios of images for Burberry; set to be revealed via their social media platforms over the coming months. A presentation of 70 pieces of his work will additionally be included in the exhibition, for which he further served as co-curator.

That curation sees all of the work divided into themes that reflect different aspects of the British way of life, as well as monographic presentations of individual photographers.

Said Bailey, who introduced the concept to Burberry fans via Instagram yesterday: “When we started thinking about curating “Here We Are”, I knew I wanted it to celebrate a certain strand of British photography that I have always loved – one which documents the many and varied tribes and clans and classes that make up this island of ours. It has been an extraordinary privilege to gather together this collection of photographs that have influenced me so much over the years. They provide a portrait of British life, in all its nuances, both exceptional and mundane, beautiful and harsh.”

The “spirit captured in British social portraiture” as well as the various “tribes, clans and classes that make up this island of ours”, serves as inspiration for the brand’s next collection, he explained, to be revealed at the venue on September 16.

The exhibition will run from September 18 – October 1, 2017, while the space will also host a programme of events and activities alongside as well as temporary versions of Burberry’s all-day café Thomas’s and a Claire de Rouen bookshop.

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Abercrombie’s ‘Let’s Get Social’ – a classic example of an in-store sharing #fail

ABERCROMBIE_kids - LET'S GET SOCIAL

Let’s talk about photos in stores.

This past weekend, millions of shoppers (albeit fewer than in 2013) descended on their favourite shops to pick up deals tied to Black Friday. Retailers accordingly ran varied promotions, offers and campaigns in a bid to drive that traffic their way – both in store and of course equally online.

Needless to say for many of them, a drive for social sharing anchored the initiatives. If you can get your goods shared / advocated for over Instagram, Facebook and Twitter tied to timed discounts particularly, that’s deemed a pretty hefty incentive for more people to shop.

This of course goes without saying for the seasoned social media staffer…

So how’s this for a confusing in-store strategy to accompany such a move then: Abercrombie & Fitch is running a campaign for the season with the tagline “Post it. Tag it. Like it.” appearing in its store windows. A no brainer for its digitally-savvy target consumer of course – Snapchat ahoy! Online, it’s kidswear line is also promoting the idea of sharing across the usual platforms. “Let’s Get Social,” reads its website header, as pictured above.

A colleague of mine, while researching Thanksgiving weekend retail experiences, did of course opt to shoot some of said imagery in-store. She hit up the brand’s Glendale Galleria location on Saturday at noon, height of the holiday shopping weekend therefore, but was very swiftly asked to put her phone away.

Ok so fair enough, she was shooting the messaging; perhaps there’s still an argument to be had around copyright protection etc etc etc for retailers (though I actually want to argue this pretty heavily these days too given the image-driven world in which we now live), and the associates spotted her for looking more professional than social media-y.

What’s more mind-blowing though is the 13-year-old girls in the store at the same time who were asked to stop taking photos of themselves (#selfies!) when trying on a couple of hats.

The hipster sales guy, as my colleague so eloquently put it, walked over immediately and asked them to stop. He also told others of a similar age no photos at all were allowed to be taken in-store.

I witnessed the same only a couple of months ago in Gap. This time it was a guy in his 30s who was asked to stop. Admittedly he didn’t perhaps look like the type that was about to share his finds on social media, but rather ask his girlfriend’s opinion on whether or not to buy (“Darling, can I #dressnormal?). He certainly wasn’t about to take the shot of the blue jumper he was holding and frogmarch it straight to a factory in China for replication though I assure you.

I suspect in both instances this is a classic case of corporate strategy not reaching sales floor level. Understandably many tech-related things, especially for retailers with so many doors, get lost somewhere down the line. But this isn’t a matter of something substantially confusing or complex – a mere conversation with each manager should suffice.

At the end of the day, how do you expect to have a successful social media campaign and NOT allow social media in the one place you can truly call your own? Abercrombie team – suggest you call Glendale, stat.