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April 6, 2007

Shopping Music: How Stores Get You To Spend

These days, clothing stores feel more like dance clubs, with a pulsing beat urging you to buy.

Shopping Music

Photo Credit: Karin Catt

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In the post-bling age of designers with DJs, pop stars with labels, and hip-hop lyrics that squeeze Gucci, Fendi, and Bur-berry into one sentence, the relationship between fashion and music has never been stronger. On the catwalk, music decodes the collection, but be forewarned: The thumping heartbeat that gooses the models will also weave its spell on you at point of sale. Being so ramped up by disco that you're practically doing the pony in the dressing room can be dangerous to the pocketbook. I set out to explore the melodic manipulation and see how stores go from cha-cha to ka-ching.

Uptown luxe is traditionally associated with an intimidating cocoon of posh-piped-in music is as essential to a snooty image as the curl of the store manager's lip. But this is the new Burberry. The traditional house has been brilliantly reinvigorated by Christopher Bailey while remaining quintessentially British: contained hauteur with a dash of "oops, sorry, vicar" cheek, and the Brit-heavy music policy captures the shift. Like the collection, it resonates with London's glory days. Just as Joe Orton-style cockney hats in teal and mul-berry velvet sit alongside the tradi-tion-al cloth caps of a partridge shoot, the old-school potency of Cream, the Kinks, and the Stones dovetails with the indie smarts of the Smiths and PJ Harvey.

The brains behind the Burberry mix is Rischel Granquist, music marketing designer for Austin-based DMX. The key, says Granquist, is asking the right questions: "What do we want the music to do-evoke an emotional response? Transport the customer to a different place? How do you want to fill the space? Most important, what is the brand DNA? With Burberry it was 'classic goes new Brit': a swinging London for the naughties."

As I shrug on this season's longed-for molten-gold trench, reimagined in quilted leather, I felt naughty indeed-the spidery meanderings of the psychedelic organ in "House of the Rising Sun" doubling the nostalgic appeal, making it perfect for right now. When the high gloss of Suede cedes the floor to the glam-rock sass of T. Rex's "Metal Guru," I wonder, Should I default to the black-leather version or sell a kidney and buy both?

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