George Gordon Byron once said, “History, with all her volumes vast, hath but one page”. One has just to look to the streets of London to see a revival of the 60’s. Head over to Kensington and the V&A is showcasing Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains. From music to stage design, the exhibit explores the world of Pink Floyd through an audio-visual journey that begun in the 1960s.
Just down the road at the Design Museum, California: Designing Freedom explores 1960’s counterculture. From psychedelic aesthetics, to mind altering drugs, to Silicon Valley’s tech revolution to an exploration of minority groups, it is impossible to navigate the space without drawing parallels to today. Whilst the exhibit concludes the influence California has in shaping the world we live in today, the pursuit of freedom was the most prominent message of the exhibit.
As we explored in Psychedelic Aesthetics, Soho’s Carnaby St is showcasing a retreat to the 60s. Consequently, Liberty has used the decade as an intellectual inspiration for visual direction. At the other end of the street, a retail pop-up entitled The Subculture Archives has undertaken a temporary residence. Hosting events and acting as an art and literature space, the pop-up invites independent thinking and a DIY attitude. As such, activism and exploring subcultures is still at the heart of Soho.
The revival of these conversations resonates with Gen Z. Growing up on the Internet, Gen Z are politically active and vocal when it comes to social issues. Social media has empowered these young consumers to advocate for change. As such, The Subculture Archives store is a modern day take on the mentality of the 60s.
If we revisit the idea of pursuing freedom portrayed at the Design Museum, its unsurprising to see that the Van’s store situated in Carnaby St has visual merchandising and messaging that communicates ‘Off the wall thinking is a state of mind. Thinking differently. Embrace creative expressionism. Choosing your own line on your board. When kids snuck into empty backyard pools seeking to expand the limits of what could be done on skateboards. Off the wall was born. Off the wall since 1966’.
This freedom-seeking ethos of the 60’s is at the heart of consumer attitudes today. 1960’s counterculture rejected the mainstream normalities of life and embodied an anti-establishment culture that showcases parallels to the present day.
With the legalisation of cannabis and rise of new age spiritualism, hippie culture that is intrinsically rooted to the 1960s is being revived. With concerns regarding mental health gaining momentum globally, medicinal cannabis to aid stress is being explored. In October, London will host its first medical cannabis conference. According to the Telegraph, the industry itself is presently worth $20bn. By 2020, it is predicted to reach $100bn. Our strategy team attended a luxury summit hosted by Stylus that shared the rise of cannabis private clubs for the ultra-rich.
With the presence of political activism, growth in freedom seeking attitudes and professional experimentation of medicinal cannabis, the exploration of the 1960s in today’s culture enables us to draw similarities between the two time frames. As such, influences from the 1960’s are permeating into wider industries and of course retail is no different.
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