I grew up in the country, but the exodus to London in the school holidays to see the dentist was always sweetened by a tour of the shops. Mum’s favourite destination was Liberty – nestled behind the glare of Oxford Circus, this curious and elegant department store, with its wooden stairwells and swathes of patterned fabrics – held a distinct fascination for me.
When I was old enough, there was the occasional special purchase – a Vivienne Westwood shirt and a Issey Miyake Pleats Please jacket – sparking my own love affair with the store. Over the last few years, full-time work and a more mature view of the world means I allow myself the occasional luxury purchase. With my first spend I was encouraged to sign up to the Liberty loyalty programme, which manifested itself in the form of a silver card.
I tucked it away amongst a growing collection of cards that includes Boots, Caffé Nero, Holland & Barrett, Nando’s and Mecca Bingo (I do not jest), and didn’t think much more of it. That is, until the direct marketing mails started dropping onto my doormat
At first I received mailers about special offers or weekend sales, but then I began to receive vouchers too. I remember around Christmas last year I received a generous £15 voucher – no strings attached. I bought myself a delicious Diptyque candle, half price. Every month something new comes in the mail and they are a delight to receive. Beautifully crafted, using designs from Liberty’s own archives of prints and patterns, these mailers come in different shapes and formats each time – sometimes fold-outs, occasionally postcards and often with tear-out vouchers.
You can also buy gift tokens at the store too, but instead of the standard plastic card, these come in the form of pleasingly weighty, over-sized, shining coins.
I love everything about the store – the friendly and immaculate staff, the genuinely rewarding loyalty scheme, the special character and nature of the building itself, the beautifully designed mailers and the fantastic collaborations between big-name brands and the exquisite Liberty prints.
There are a few teething problems of course – the website doesn’t always function as smoothly as it could. I recently had an issue trying to make an online purchase, with glitches springing up all over the place, but spoke to a personable customer service representative who smoothed things over instantly.
Liberty is as beautiful inside as it is out – one of those quintessentially British institutions, blessed with an expert marketing team that gets the importance of its heritage check my reference. Long may it remain so.