This year, WWD celebrates 100 years covering all things fashion, and to celebrate, we’re taking a daily look back at, well, ourselves. Beginning today and running through New Year’s Eve, the items will feature “news” from 1910 to yesterday — every bit of it fashionably fascinating.
Fashion’s Night Out isn’t the only event to shake up a retail recession with one big consumer-spending bash. In 1922, London hosted its own version of FNO, which actually lasted six days, from May 22 to 27. Dubbed Empire Week, the celebrations were sponsored by area department stores and the Brighter London Society “with a view to boosting retail trade, creating a fresh interest and increasing sales,” WWD reported on April 1. “In addition to the large West-End stores, the cooperation of the navy, army, Royal Air Force, all important public bodies, hospital students, hotels, restaurants and theatres is being enlisted.” Captain A. H. Williams, sales manager of Selfridges & Co., was committee chairman.
As for the name, it stemmed from Empire Day (today’s Commonwealth Day), which that year fell on May 24. And because that was a school holiday for kids, stores made a point to take that day to target the junior set with special activities and attractions. Other days featured carnivals in the streets and an advertising parade. “This procession will include special features from all parts of the British Empire,” the paper explained. “Living characters representing leading British advertisements will play a large part in the procession.” Negotiations were also in the works for another parade to take place on the River Thames, as well as a military pageant showcasing drill movements. “As English businessmen have never been great advertisers,” WWD wrote, “having only learned the art from their American cousins, it will be seen that at last they are waking up to the importance of publicity.”