Liberty of London - Series 2 TX: 12 Nov 2014, Week 46
Episode 1 - Wednesday 12 November, 9pm, Channel 4
The doors of Liberty are flung open once more as Channel 4 returns to gain a closer look behind-the-scenes of one of London’s oldest and most iconic department stores in the run-up to the busy festive period. With unprecedented access and filmed over six months, we catch up with the work of Liberty’s cast of charismatic buyers, retail team and fabric designers to find out what challenges and opportunities the past year has brought and, in this episode, introduce some special celebrity visitors who are choosing to launch their products at this quintessentially British institution.
Liberty in London is a department store like no other. Housed in an iconic half-timber building made from old ships, Liberty is a magnet for famous, stylish and artistic shoppers from around the globe. It is being dragged into the 21st century by the American Ed Burstell who was brought in to revive the fortunes of the failing store and has a vision to make Liberty’s London’s premier shopping destination.
Part of Ed’s rejuvenation is the Open Design Call, a Dragon’s Den style pitching session where hundreds of designers from across the UK get a chance to pitch to the most selective and discerning buyers in the business in the hope that they will be bought for the legendary store and to gain invaluable feedback on their products.
Nearly 900 people arrive for the Open Call including Nancy, who has ploughed a huge amount of her and her husband’s savings into Nancy’s Nails, her range of perfumed nail polishes. As Liberty is one of the only department stores in London to welcome dogs, Ed is keen on Sal and Richard who have arrived with their model dog Milo to pitch their range of dog rain jackets, a totally new product for the store. Ed invites them to host a pop-up within the store to gage buyers’ reaction to the products. Is this something that has a future in the store or is it simply too niche for a wider audience?
Ed whittles down the 900 applicants to only 12, offering Nancy’s Nails a coveted place on the Liberty shelves. More unusual products, like embellished S&M blindfolds are rejected by the team when they don’t meet their exacting standards.
The staff of Liberty are as colourful and eclectic as the items they sell. Omar is relatively new to the womenswear department but his flamboyant style and love for his customers is already marking him out as one of Liberty’s best sellers. As part of the drive to attract a new, younger and more fashion-conscious audience, Omar is put in charge of styling their Instagram shoots, taking everyday women and transforming them into models with some of the most elegant designer wear the store has to offer.
Liz Sylvester is the new head of Visual Merchandising, responsible for the look of the entire store and whose responsibilities include its development and redesign, and the famous window displays. Her first task is the installation of the summer of sport window design, a high-profile and difficult task. But will she be able to acquit herself and will Ed be impressed with her final designs?
Liberty scarves are one of the best known of all the Liberty products, and the Scarf Hall is the central focus of the store. But with sales falling despite the best efforts of the scarf sales team, Ed charges Liz with redesigning and revamping this famous attraction. Will some mannequins and bondage style straps revitalise the fortunes of the Hall?
The episode ends with a visit to the store by Pharrell, who has launched an exclusive fragrance with Liberty. Pharrell comments: ‘Fragrance to me is paint for the nose. People who make fragrances…. The air is their canvas.’ The store is abuzz with fans and the younger fashion conscious audience that Ed is so keen to attract, as he comments: ‘It positions Liberty as a store that is quite cutting-edge and quite cool…it really isn’t Grandma’s store anymore.’
Production Company: Rize
Executive Producers: Sheldon Lazarus & Nick Shearman
Series Producer: Mark Henderson
Producer/Directors: Suemay Oram, Claudia Webster
Producer: Naomi Zola
Assistant Producers: Soufian Shamsi & Alice Whickham
Researcher: Andrea Bate-Boyle
Production Executive: Lianne Hickey
Production Secretary: Martha Maynard & Madeleine Hearn
Past TX Information