Winning Windows 2022: Retailers go all out as Consumers Clamor for In-Store Holiday Shopping Experiences

Winning Windows 2022: Retailers go all out as Consumers Clamor for In-Store Holiday Shopping Experiences

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What was your inspiration for this year’s windows theme? 

Connor Matz: This year, we challenged ourselves to pull our inspiration from the reimagined light show on the exterior of the building, and to bring that experience inside the windows through brilliant and surprising uses of integrated lighting, vibrant color and over-the-top whimsical animations. 

For the center six windows, we wanted to take iconic and nostalgic toys and memories from childhood, and filter them through that brilliant, modern and radiant lens to create fantastical worlds out of the heartwarming and familial. 


RTP: How did you ideate the concept and materials used for the final windows? 

Matz: We started conceptualizing the window designs in January 2022. We went through multiple iterations of renderings and prototyping before moving into final production. It was important to us to maintain the straightforward simplicity of the traditional toys and memories that inspired the windows, but to have a design language that felt uniquely modern and presented them in a totally new and unexpected way. 


RTP: What was your overall timeline like, from concept to execution? 

Matz: We always have a goal to start [the process] a year out. I begin to nail down potential themes and aesthetic direction in January and then start the design and sketching process for each window between February and March. From there, concepts are all presented and then we work collectively as a team to collaborate on final direction and treatments. Designs are all finalized between April and May, and we begin prototyping and material sampling in June. The July through October timeframe is always reserved for production! 


RTP: How large is the team that helps design and execute your holiday windows, and who is responsible for which tasks?  

Matz: At Saks, we have an incredible and tight-knit windows team of eight. Different stylists are dedicated to everything from fashion presentation to mannequin hair and makeup, as well as lighting and production. For the holiday windows, we also partner with production houses and artisans to produce larger-scale elements and animated components. We had three dedicated teams this year — and put in thousands of hours collectively — to create and bring these windows to life. 


RTP: How did you collaborate with other teams and functions within Saks, especially given the charitable component? 

Matz: We were so excited to partner with the Elton John Aids Foundation this year. His team was an absolute pleasure to work with and collaborating on these windows was definitely a highlight of the season for me personally. We partnered with the Foundation’s charity leadership team, along with the team at Gucci, to present our window concepts and ensure that everyone was comfortable with and excited about the artistic direction and treatments. With any partnership, there are always a lot of moving pieces; to work collectively together and see the windows come alive was truly a privilege. The window featuring Sir Elton John’s personal fashion and costumes, provided courtesy of Gucci, is a favorite of mine! 


RTP: Were there any notable lessons from the process this year that you plan to apply in the future? 

Matz: Like every year, we learn so much throughout the process. We wanted to embrace a different design approach this year and challenged ourselves to find and select materials that really set us apart from how we’ve traditionally built holiday windows in the past. 

Lots of these newer material choices, along with the complexity of the designs, presented challenges we had to troubleshoot through as we moved forward. For example, to accomplish the chromed finish on the giant scale spinning top, we had to find and have this applied at an auto body specialist shop due to the oversized and curved nature of the piece. 


RTP: What inspiration would you offer to your peers in other organizations as the world of store design and visual merchandising continues to evolve? 

Matz: What I love and appreciate about Saks is that we truly have the freedom to approach the windows with unbridled creativity and excellence. Internally, we have such a collaborative and ambitious culture, and the process of pushing ourselves as the windows are designed and created is such a deeply rewarding experience. It’s always important for me to remind myself that the only creative limits that really exist are often the ones that we place on ourselves. 

Nothing will ever beat the feeling of seeing crowds on the sidewalk, captivated in awe as they see the windows unveiled for the first time. That’s when we know we’ve done our part. Having the opportunity to lead and deliver these windows truly is a gift, and I could not be more proud and thankful to have and work with the team that we have here at Saks. 

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