September 26 – October 3, 2012
While I’ve been here for about four weeks now I never realized how big a role luxury plays in society in London. More specifically, I didn’t realize how luxurious the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was until I had a chance to look around at some department stores, and even car stores. But before I get into that, I’ve been to some great museums in London like the Tate museum. The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom’s national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art. It is a network of four art museums: Tate Britain, London, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives,Cornwall, and Tate Modern, London.
This is me at the Tate museum taking notes on a painting. I came here with my British Culture & Visual Media class because we have to speak about one of the paintings form the collection on our final exam. All of the museums are free because of the profits from the Great Exhibition, or the Crystal Palace Exhibition that was held in 1851, but donations are highly appreciated.
This is a picture of me, and some of my classmates who are all from Drexel at the Tate Britain. Our British Culture &Visual Media class is comprised of only Drexel students, while my other three classes are a mix of students from the United States. Unfortunately we don’t take classes with British, or other international students. Even thought I think that would make the study abroad experience more exciting.
One of the first department stores, that I see their signature bright yellow shopping bags almost everyday is Selfridges. Selfridges, actually known as Selfridges & Co, is a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom. It was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The flagship store in London’s Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK, after Harrods. I have only been into Selfridges once and it was very intimidating to me. There were so many things to look at, smells to take in, and I also had to take the backpack off that I was wearing and carry it with my hands so it was harder to shop lift. I’ve never experienced that before but it made sense. I was trying to find the men’s section, if they even have one, but I was pressed for time and soon left.
The second department store I visited was the world renowned Harrods. Harrods is an upscale department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, which is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique—All Things for All People, Everywhere. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Hall, are world famous. The store has over one million square feet of selling space in over 330 departments making it the biggest department store in Europe. I visited Harrods with my marketing class to research their sales and branding techniques. Harrods has incredible visual displays as well as in store displays and carries a luxurious air that I’ve never felt before in any consumer experience I’ve had. Harrods plays on all of your senses as you traverse through the multiple floors of clothing, food, and even a salon for your pets; it truly is a remarkable store.
One of my favorite stores that I feel really portrays London fashion is Topshop, more specifically Topman. Topshop is a British multinational retailer which specializes in men’s and women’s fashion clothing, shoes, make-up and accessories. It has around 440 shops across 33 countries and online operations in a number of its markets. I first discovered Topshop on a trip to New York City with my ‘Survey of Fashion’ class freshman year but it didn’t really appeal to me then. I would describe them as an edgier more avant-garde version of the American Urban Outfitters.
Lastly, as I walk home from the nearest tube stop, I can’t help but notice these gorgeous sports cars that I could never afford, but their design is so distinct. I have only seen cars like these in video games, music videos of successful artists, or in movies. The chances of seeing these cars in Philadelphia are slim to none. The first type of car I see is a Maserati. Maserati is an Italian luxury car manufacturer established in Bologna. The company’s headquarters is now in Modena, and its emblem is a trident. It has been owned by the Italian car giant Fiat. These exotic cars’ base value is around $150,000, and it’s uncommon if I DON’T see at least five or six a day, it’s incredible
The second type of car I see often is my personal favorite, the Lamborghini. Automobili Lamborghini designs, engineers, manufactures and distributes Italian luxury sports cars. Lamborghini’s production facility and headquarters are located in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy.
This white and green Lamborghini are on show at a store called ‘London Lamborghini’. The storefront is all glass with about four or five cars on display. The store doesn’t even have door handles, so I’m guessing you have to make an appointment to even think of buying one of these beasts. Their design and the sound of their engine is so unique and breathtaking you know when one is coming without even seeing it. These sports cars’ base value is $250,000.