Bringing the great outdoors into the urban jungle

Bringing the great outdoors into the urban jungle

In a highly competitive market, fashion brands are under immense pressure to ensure their new collections catch the eye of buyers and consumers as early in the season as possible.

Fashion trade shows provide a fantastic opportunity to showcase new ranges and latest designs to retailers, media and consumers. However, to stand out at such busy events and to be memorable, brands must be innovative and creative about how they show their collections.

The task becomes even more difficult for those outside the high fashion circle, such as performance wear brands. Berghaus, the British outdoor clothing and footwear manufacturer, faces this challenge every year. With over 50 years’ experience in creating outdoor activewear, the brand has taken a bold step with its latest advertising campaign. It has completely moved away from showcasing the products and instead focused on the brand’s identity and its emotional connection with consumers.

Determined to inspire people’s passion for the great outdoors, Berghaus created an installation at the London Design Biennale in Somerset House to transport consumers from their daily lives into a tranquil and beautiful canvas of the outdoors. Instead of putting the new range at the centre of attention, the focus of the installation was to position the outdoors as an escape from the stresses of modern-day life. Over a period of three weeks in September 2018, over 35,000 visitors left behind the noisy chaos of the city to experience an immersive installation that was formed around the campaign’s theme of ‘Emotional States’.

Reimagining the sales pitch

For Berghaus, the standard way of selling new collections with a flat panel display at the front of the room is over. To leave behind the old-school pitch, the brand worked with Pentland Brands to inspect the values at its core and develop a creative concept for a more engaging and immersive sales experience.

“The exhibition’s ‘Emotional States’ theme tapped straight into an aspect of Berghaus that we have been exploring for some time. At the heart of the brand is a deep love of the outdoors and encouraging us all to get outside and enjoy experiences that can be genuinely life-changing. Through the installation, we invited visitors to explore their relationship with everyday life alongside the benefit of escaping outdoors,” commented Katie Greenyer, Creative Talent and Network Director at Pentland Brands.

Starting with the exhibition in Somerset House which was aimed at the general public, the installation then moved to the brand’s head office in North London, followed by a week in the Lake District and finally one week in Brunel’s Old Station in Bristol to target fashion buyers.

The innovative approach sparked interest among key retailers and the brand was able to present its proposition and collection to more decision-makers within the industry than ever before. The immersive and effective execution of the installation helped Berghaus to communicate its core values – encouraging people’s love of the outdoors – to connect with its audience on a more personal level. Following the six-week campaign, Berghaus has received several first-ever orders from major companies and considers this to be one of its most successful endeavours.

Creating a fully immersive experience

To represent the transition from the city into the peaceful countryside, the exhibition comprised of two sections. Visitors first walked through a corrugated metal tunnel that invoked the industrial atmosphere of the city and the claustrophobic feeling of a morning commute on the tube.

The ‘Chaos tunnel’ was buzzing with loud sounds and noises of the city – including the constant ringing of phones – to add to the growing sense of stressfulness and discord. To represent the pressures of our daily lives, messages were written on the floor to remind visitors of the turbulent and often disconcerting feelings the modern life can evoke within us.

Eventually, visitors emerged into a light-filled, full-height space where a watercolour painting of a beautiful landscape was projected onto a vast canvas, bringing the outdoors to life. The sharp contrast between the two sections of the exhibition thus aimed to convince visitors that a walk in the wilderness answers a deep human desire to escape the humdrum of the urban jungle, in a bid to reconnect with nature.

Rising to the challenge with the right technology

To deliver a vivid projection and an impactful experience, Pentland Brands enlisted audio-visual specialists from AV equipment rental service Blue Elephant who were able to realise the creative concept in every detail.

Having animated the watercolour artwork in the ‘Calm space’ to depict the four seasons and changing weather, the team mapped the projection individually on three walls 5.4metres high. Using the latest laser projection technology, the visual part of the experience was delivered by two Epson EB-L1405U 8,000 lumens laser projectors with ultra-short-throw ELPLX01 lenses and one Epson EB-L1505UH 12,000 lumens laser projector with ELPLX02 ultra-short-throw lens.

Designed specifically for large venues, the projectors from Epson offered bright, clear images in rich, vivid colours that brought the installation to life. By using the zero offset ultra short throw periscope lenses, the projectors could be placed virtually anywhere to create a borderless floor-to-ceiling truly immersive experience, transporting visitors to the beautiful natural landscape.

“We have recently invested in these projectors from Epson and as soon as the brief came from Pentland Brands, we knew that they would be the right choice for this project. They did a brilliant job, impressing not just the typical art lover at Somerset House, but also the fashion buyers with their business hats on,” said William Kemp, Managing Director at Blue Elephant.

Relying on this powerful video set-up, the installation could smoothly transform into a sales pitch with a more traditional product presentation controlled by a clicker. The immersive experience was underpinned by an 8.1 surround sound delivered by a high-performance d&b audio system, all controlled by a custom-built Apple Mac Q-Lab control system and distributed through a Dante audio network.

Following the initial success of the installation in the UK, Berghaus is now considering taking the project to the Irish market to communicate its key values and highlight the role the outdoors can play as an antidote to the stresses of modern life.