Staid and tony Selfridges, a United Kingdom based department store over a century old, has turned the idea of fashion and branding on its head. Since last month, the High Street retailer has rolled out a new store-wide concept, “No Noise,” which invites shoppers to “celebrate the power of quiet” and find calm in the oft-chaotic department store setting.

At first this idea appears to be the invention of BBC cult classic Absolutely Fabulous’ Edina Monsoon, the fictitious public relations executive known for trying to link Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) with Jordan’s Queen Noor and rolling out Alcoh-Spray, a product “great for kids.” But this well curated series of exhibits harkens back to 1909, when the store’s founder, Harry Gordon Selfridge, included a Silence Room in his floor plan to offer shoppers a quite respite “from the whirl of bargains and the build up of energy.”

“No noise” showcases several features. Architect Alex Cochrane designed a more updated Silence Room, insulated from the store’s noise and bustle. Visitors are required to remove their shoes, phones and other “21st century distractions” in lockers before entry.

The biggest buzz is over the Quiet Shop, a back-handed tribute to some of the world’s iconic brands--only with the logos removed. Ketchup without the Heinz label, jeans that were once a shadow of Levi’s and jars of yeasty Marmite are now naked--and according to Selfridges, companies took the step of “de-branding” their products for this exhibition.

And in an artistic touch that would have done Saturday Night Live’s alum Mike Myers’ “Sprockets” minimalist host Dieter proud, the store’s windows are beautifully adorned with almost nothing. Artist Katie Peterson elegantly assembled four window displays that explore concepts of space, time “and the wider cosmos.”

None of this should be too surprising. British retailers have been pushing the envelope when it comes to revamping their business models and marketing approaches. Joanna Lumley, whose character Patsy Stone plays Edina Monsoon’s better half in Absolutely Fabulous, is the spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping campaign. The company encourages shoppers to drop off an old item of clothing when they buy a new one; some are donated to Oxfam, others are recycled into new fibers for a line of men’s and women’s coats. Last fall the grocer Sainsbury’s allowed “ugly” fruits and vegetable to be sold within their produce section. And well, Tesco has had some horsing around going on with its supply chain, but in fairness has aggressively diverted waste away from landfills.

If you happen to cross the pond, Selfridges No Noise campaign will run until February 24.

Published earlier today on Triple Pundit. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost). He will explore children’s health issues in India February 16-27 with the International Reporting Project.

[Image credit: Selfridges]

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.