Liberty Gets Political

Liberty of London, Great Marlborough Street, London

It has been exciting times in politics in the UK, and the department store Liberty is taking part in the political debate with their menswear windows. I am attempting to analyze them a little bit, but I am no political expert so please do comment and discuss with me! The windows use colour, scale and repetition to communicate a strong message. The commercial purpose of them is to promote the Liberty menswear offer (although some of the windows have hardly any products in them), but more importantly to promote the brand Liberty. They also suggest to me that the political world is very male dominated.

Green is often the symbolic colour of environment and peace. Toy tanks have been decorated with flower power, and are surrounded by toy solders. They are shooting but not hitting the target on the back wall. The T-shirt in front of the target illustrates an explosion – destruction caused if the tanks were hitting into the bullseye. But are the tanks weapons of peace instead of war and why are they still shooting? What is also interesting is the scale – the tanks are very small, but the target is large. Does this symbolize the hopelessness of war?

These two are next to each other, and I think they belong together as a twin, because of the similarities and the background forms a sunrise. Which can only mean new beginnings, right?? Or something.. The first one shows four men all dressed in different kind of outfits. They are demonstrators and one man carries a sign that says ‘Power to the People’. The vinyl on the glass shouts ‘YES’. Yes to what? The next window is almost like an opposite with four men in a line, but facing the opposite direction. The men are wearing almost identical formal suits. Are they conforming, and the other four are rebelling?

The colour red in politics is generally associated with socialist groups and revolutionaries. In the UK the Labour Party uses red. Red together with black often refers to anarchy. The headless bust form is covered in badges: the black ones read ‘bother’ and the white ones have pictures of badgers on them. I think it is more of a play with words and images than an appeal for animal rights. The figure himself is the messenger who has lost his own identity and is covered with the message itself. The walls have The Liberated Press menswear fanzine all over them. The paper declares ‘We’re not posh, we’re arts and crafts’. The paper has an image of a naked woman with her head replaced with and old traditional male head. I am a little confused what is going on in this window. Instead of blowing up the message across the window, the political manifesto is getting lost in the information overload. But maybe that is the point?

The top of the window run is covered with ears. Tons of them. In the middle there is a microphone. We’re listening. To three piles of clothes and accessories. Are they ment to represent the three main UK political parties the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party? The crowd is wanting to hear a point of difference, but where are the politicians?

Can you spot me taking the photo? This windows plays with repetition to get the visual point across. The raised fists seem demanding and powerful. The background again is a sunrise (which I decided means new beginnings). The only thing I would say is that the stock doesn’t seem to play a role in the story.


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3 Responses to Liberty Gets Political

  1. A very interesting study of a very fascinating scheme. Reminds me of George Orwell, 1984
    “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”
    - George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3

  2. I think that as political statements, these windows are quite difficult to read. Some of the windows are reminiscent of classic Soviet propaganda – the clenched fist and the rising sun.

    The ears window and the rather cluttered newspaper window are quite surrealist in style.

    The window featuring the protestors is an odd one…usually protestors shout ‘NO!’ not ‘YES’!!

  3. Thanks for sharing those photographs. I tweeted your blogpost.

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