Becoming the Kristiania Guide to Shopping

by Vésma Kontere McQuillan and Kjeld Hansen
August 11, 2021
An article for Kunnskap Kristiania, Edition: 02, Innovation Issue.
Key message
We launched NoFilter.Space as a webzine where architecture, design, and social media meet fashion retail. The webzine represents a new way of studying retail design.
We find that is becoming an up-and-coming tool, a guide for shopping referring to Koolhaas, for engaging with our local fashion retailers and international fashion retail connoisseur. With the webzine, we have opened the door to a new network of people interested in discussing and developing new fashion retail typologies.
Fashion retail is essentially the business of buying clothes from manufacturers and brands and selling them to consumers. Fashion shows are essential when brands are selling their latest collections to wholesale and retail. However, fashion shows are more than fashion business, claims Alexandre de Bettak, a successful producer of fashion shows for the past 25 years. "The fashion show is a creative form of expression […] a place to champion causes and concerns." (de Bettak & Singer, 2017) The renowned Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, was instrumental in formulating the idea of fashion shopping as a cultural entertainment with his book on retail, The Harvard Guide to Shopping. The architect students of Harvard focused on shopping as a defining factor of urban life and the main reason for the city's existence. "Shopping is arguably the last remaining form of public activity." (Koolhaas, 2001)

New Typology of Fashion Retail

With the emergence of the internet and later on the new digital infrastructures, such as streaming and social media platforms, fashion retail has become a multi-channeled business that merges ideas from different disciplines.

In our book, Fashion Spaces/ A Theoretical View we draw on architectural thinking, marketing, and branding theory to conceptualise contemporary fashion shows directed at both retailers and fashion consumers.

We base our conceptualisation on two essential components;

The physical presence, which becomes transformed via ephemeral architecture, and

The imagined spaces, which is enabled by digitalisation and enhanced via interactions on social media.

These new fashion retail typologies were emerging before the SARS-CoV-2pandemic but have further intensified during periods of social lockdown.

SARS-CoV-2 also brought changes in the fashion retail landscape.While fashion retailers are struggling to define the right amount of inventory, many fashion manufacturers and brands now choose direct-to-consumer sales models to bypass any fashion retailer.

Going Digital with NoFilter.Space

As we were finalising the manuscript for our book on Fashion Spaces last spring, we watched in awe how fashion manufacturers and retailers were struggling to convert their businesses to digital.

We decided that to understand the fast-paced current developments in fashion retail properly; we needed to develop a digital site, a webzine (web + magazine) named NoFilter.Space.

To accommodate and facilitate our students' strong competencies in the digital realm, we decided to use a practice-oriented approach to teaching and research by collaborating with students and local fashion retailers.

Studying Retail Design in New Ways

With the help of our friends at Oslo-based design agency, Bleed, we created a graphical template with three different contribution formats, Projects, Words, and Reportage, which could facilitate input from researchers, students, and the fashion retail community.

Projects publish architectural, interior, and design projects within retail design, 

Words focus on reports and essays about the state of fashion retail. 

Reportage is a free format, which favors visual contributions on current trends.

The contribution of both researchers, students, and fashion retailers has helped us understand fashion retail diversity and opened up new innovation avenues of innovation.

To consolidate this new way of studying retail design, we decided to include both students and researchers on the editorial team. Furthermore, we ensured the differentiated representation of students, for example, based on their level of experience, so the more experienced students can pass their knowledge to the younger students while working as a team.

Rethinking Fashion Retail

Exploring fashion retail with NoFilter.Space have brought more benefits than we anticipated.

Building on our previous work, we defined NoFilter.Space as where architecture, design, and social media meet fashion retail.

However, our weekly publications are continually pushing us to rethink the interdisciplinary and limits of fashion retail. We are already contemplating expanding our focus with new marketing, branding, and service design ideas.

Both our students and our researchers seem reinvigorated by the prospects of publishing with NoFilter.Space. Furthermore, they can use their published material as an online portfolio. As researchers, we can use their published work as a reference system for their interests and local and international tendencies and developments.

"To me, NoFilter.Space is a webzine that explores architecture in an incredibly exciting way. Before I started studying at Kristiania, architecture was just buildings. Working on NoFilter.Space has changed my outlook. I can talk about it all day. But what I find most interesting is the opportunity it gives me to understand, learn and grow."

Christine Kalvik, Senior Editor, 3rd year student at retail design.

Read more articles on digital Kunnskap Kristiania.





See the visual project