Curious as to what goes on in an Intensive Chavón course, we popped into the computer lab one afternoon last week to visit the Visual Merchandising workshop. Professor Ramon Evins was teaching a group of 10+ students the importance of in-store displays to showcase merchandise in eye-catching formats. The more appealing customers find your products he explained, the more likely they are to shop… and buy!
Evins is an Altos de Chavón graduate who completed his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) before going on to work in the visual merchandising departments of Henri Bendel, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, and Giorgio Armani. He became the managing director of the visual departments of H&M throughout the entire US before going internationally to open their stores abroad in France, Portugal, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan. What he says he loves most about his job is: “I love openings, taking a raw space and working from scratch, seeing the fixtures you designed built and the final product come together little by little until the last day the store is ready to open. It’s a very satisfying career.” Currently, he holds the position as the Visual Creative Director of Centro Cuesta Nacional in the Dominican Republic.
A three-day span for a workshop could be considered a short period of time to grasp a new concept, but Chavón’s professionals are able to pack a lot of info into a small window. Day 1, students learned the theoretical background of visual merchandising, which included a lecture on design, composition, lighting, color, and merchandising techniques. Rule #1 was that to create a good in-store atmosphere one must know their clients. A clearly defined target market is essential to crafting the environment where they would want to shop. Evins spoke of personal experiences like designing the store displays in Casa Cuesta and Jumbo to give examples the students would recognize.
Day 2, students learned more about types of fixtures and common practices like the “rule of three” (essentially how-to pair corresponding pieces together), cross-merchandising products of various departments, and varying the price-points displayed. Students learned what to stay away from, like over-crowded racks and instead open up spaces for cleaner, more organized systems. After all, isn’t that a more inviting way to shop, and even what we want to accomplish in our own closets? Tables with multiple layers, shelving at varying heights, and smaller, separated hanging racks are how to create visually stimulating displays. Plus, Evins noted good lighting in windows and dressing rooms are key elements to configuring successful store environments.
Day 2 and 3, students worked on building their dream store and presented their final projects in teams. A mood board elaborated their inspiration and students shared ideas as to how their target customers would most like to shop. In week-long workshops Evins has given in the past, students went as far as to build window displays. We certainly enjoyed this workshop and look forward to more of what the Altos de Chavón School of Design has to offer! Stay tuned to find out what their continuing education courses are that begin this Fall.
*Featured image: Visual merchandising display at Jumbo in Agora Mall, Santo Domingo