anthropologie summer windows

by Grace Bonney

when i was in college i had fantasies of being either a window display designer or a specializing in restaurant design. i wanted so desperately to think of wild ideas (that probably wouldn’t work for residential interior design) and do them on a big scale, possibly involving repetition. so i think the first time i saw an anthropologie window in the city i just about cried. it was everything i’d ever wanted to do, and i spent my first year at design*sponge trying to track down their window designers to interview them. over the years i’ve been fortunate to work with some of them at d*s (and for our wedding!) and i’m always excited to hear from people at anthro about their plans for summer windows.

unlike a lot of national stores, each anthro shop has its own small team of artists that do all of the display at their location. graphic designers, painters, and sculptors all work together to create the unique designs you see on display. this season the anthro teams are focusing on larger than life, woven, wooden sculptures and have spent over six weeks to come up with their shop’s individual take on the idea. the anthro team was kind enough to share some images from their shops this summer and i was excited to share them here. i’m just such a huge fan of the talented artists that work there and wanted to give them a big thumbs up. i can’t wait to check out what my local union square shop did this week…. [thanks, amanda!]

CLICK HERE for more beautiful woven window displays after the jump!

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  • Wonderful as always! I could walk around their store for days just looking at all the beautiful displays. Thanks for the eye candy this Monday morning!

  • Anthropologie windows never fail to impress me. Last weekend I saw one in Boston with the woven, basket-like structures with brightly colored yarn accents and was awed by how dynamic the installation looked! Those folks do a great job!

  • I had interviewed for a VM position at Anthro last summer. Didn’t get the job unfortunately! They put in SO much hard work for all of their displays, it’s crazy. I can imagine it would be really stressful at times.

    It all panned out though, I do all of the display work at my mom’s store. Clearly not as cool as Anthro!

  • ugh anthropologie windows are the BEST THING ON THE PLANET. I could stand in front of them for days. weeks, even. they’re seriously incredible. and now i will stare at these pictures for days/weeks. since i don’t have an anthropologie of my own :(

  • Sorry to comment again, but who designed + created these pieces for Anthro? Hate to just settle for an answer like “an anonymous Anthro employee(s)!”

  • As someone who has done visual for the last 20+ years, I have to say that Anthro has the best displays of any multi-location store around. They’re always fantastic and individual to whatever space they’ve got at each store.
    Sadly, most store chains used to have the power to generate their own window ideas, but now for most of them a directive, or “plan-o-gram” comes and they are forced to follow it, thereby eliminating most of the creativity from within each department.
    I used to see tons of great ideas in window display, but now, hardly at all for the bigger stores, Anthropologie being the exception and also Bergdorf’s.
    It’s sad that “branding” has taken over in this way.

  • Ha! I just took pics of the displays in Anthropologie’s windows here in Denver yesterday! Wonderfully imaginative displays, and such simple designs!

  • as much as i love and adore anthropologie’s aesthetic, i have a very big problem with their brand’s ethical issues in regards to sustainability. im not sure if everyone knows this, but anthropologie destroys unsold merchandise, furniture, and countless other items all for the sake of “brand integrity.” they do not want their items to end up on sites like ebay and third party retailers. but still, in a world where environment and sustainability are such a HUGE topic, how can they still continue this? think of the sheer amount of anthropologie and urban outfitters there are. it will make you cringe. and maybe even cry when thinking about homeless people, or just people in DESPERATE NEED of these items. grace, id really applaud you if you were able to interview these employees too about this…

    • jennifer

      i’d never heard that- i’ll email to ask about that too.

      i’m pretty sure employees sign NDAs that prevent them from talking about things like that…


    • jennifer

      i emailed anthro to ask about this, i’ll let you know what i hear.

      i just don’t understand how destroying unsold merch would prevent it from getting on ebay, etc. it’s still on there, people can still buy and resell things- it doesn’t really make sense to me. maybe there’s another reason. i’ll update with whatever i hear.


  • ive had two friends who have been apparel managers there and both have told me about their experiences in throwing away perfectly fine clothes, and also literally destroying furniture. in addition ive also googled it and come across other managers who have anonymously come forward about it as well. i am sure they are not allowed to speak about it. but id love if somehow someone were able to do a story on this. its just totally irresponsible on so many levels. it makes me very mad. we are destroying our planet and i wish anthropologie and other stores wouldnt take it all so lightly.

  • i am not entirely sure. i think the whole reasoning behind it is they want to maintain the “value” of their products. so donating a 88$ unsold shirt to say, salvation army, would in a way make anthropologie seem “cheap”?

    heres just one of many articles ive found about it:


    thanks for the investigating grace!!

  • I used to do window display for the Seattle Anthro stores. I only worked part time and it was GRUELING! However, to finish a project was thrilling. The prep work is intense. There were days when I’d spend eight hours hand rolling tiny wool balls or cutting and sewing thousands of clear straws. Very very tedious, but super fun to work on these projects while chatting with your co-workers. The company does an amazing job of pulling together inspiration books and videos for each season. I learned a lot about fashion, design, and art history. I loved the opportunity of working with new materials and techniques. Another thing I admire about Anthropologie, is that they don’t advertise. They have a catalog, but you won’t see Anthro print ads, billboards or commrecials. The money that would typically go to that type of advertising goes to craft work and supplies for store display. It was a fascinating job and I’d still be doing it if I didn’t have my own art to create! I will say, though, it has hugely influenced my artistic style and still does to this day.

  • these windows were so fun to make! i recently landed my dream job as an anthro display coordinator here in the boston area, and it is usually filled with fun. a great way to exercise your creative mind all day, that’s for sure! i definitely view the installations as installation art, but that’s probably because i focused on installation art in college (and am still using it in my career yay!!). as far as that stuff goes about trashing merchandise, i don’t think it really happens. if so, maybe it is a store-by-store basis. i don’t get that feeling working there. we all appreciate the product and the displays. everything is pretty well nurtured.

    but to spin the conversation in a happy, aesthetic way, fall is going to be beautiful!!! wait for THOSE displays :)

  • Thanks for posting this! My sister is part of the visual team at the Union Square shop and I am so SO proud of her for finding a job that combined her artistic talent and her love of good design!
    She constantly tells me what a great organization they are to works for, they foster a lot of creativity in their employees and reward thinking outside the box!
    If you see some gorgeous displays in the home section know that my sister had something to do with that!

  • Hi Grace, I’m wondering if you could say more about how you went about working with Anthro talent as consultants. Is this an industry insider-type of connection or is your sense that some of these folks do consulting work on the side? I have often wondered about hiring their visual merchandisers for freelance projects and, if it’s possible, how to find or approach such people.

  • i would love to know too about this brand integrity business. if it is true, that is truly horrifying. and i would NEVER shop there again. for the people on her implying its not true, im not exactly sure how such a rumor can even be started like that? it seems a NUMBER of people in upper management positions at this company have come forward admitting it is true. i dont see the incentive for them to lie about it. and lets face it, anthropologie is now known for their “cheap” or “practical” pricing on their clothing and housewares. it makes perfect sense they would not want their items to end up in charity bins or salvation army’s. and i dont mean this in an offensive way, but perhaps people lower on the chain at the store dont know about these practices? it seems only the managers are privy to this information. and its APPAREL managers. people from the visual department wouldnt be tasked to destroy clothing or furniture i dont think…

    jeez, you would think they would use the furniture for their displays instead of destroying it. whatever happened to recycling?

    • hi guys

      waiting on an update from anthro. please don’t jump to attack and boycott anything until we have some facts and details from current staffers and their pr dept. as someone who’s had a decent amount of rumors spread about them, i know first hand that sometimes rumors are just rumors. will update this asap..


      • hi guys!

        i heard from amanda in anthro’s PR dept and she explained:

        “We are a socially conscious company and we advocate the reuse or re-purposing of unsold merchandise. The only reason Anthropologie would discard merchandise is if it had been irreparably damaged and could not be used in any way. We either reuse items internally or donate them to local charities.”


  • I was the display coordinator in Boston (where Cristina, above works) from 2004-2007. I’m sure there are extension cords I left, still stapled to the ceiling. It was a very thrilling job, however VERY VERY labor intensive. It was fun no doubt. The process is interesting…the people in Home Office in Philly, scour the magazines, trends, globe for whats cool in art, fashion and design. Then they give “inspiration packets” to all of the Display articsts. We interpreted them with our visual managers to suit the store and make those installations you love. If you play attention to whats happening in the sculpture/art world, you will see many similarities in Anthro. Its a fun process!

  • do you really think they would admit to you that they destroy “old” merchandise? seriously. of course they are going to say that they do not practice such ill practices.

    • t-

      i’m not sure. h&m admitted it and then changed their policy, so it’s possible they’d admit it and then perhaps use that issue to inspire a change. but i don’t assume the worst about a company right off the bat. it’s totally possible that some BAD corporate policies are being passed down, but i’ve heard from a few visual display people via email who say they’ve never been asked to do that. but i’ve also heard from some that said they “heard” about it happening at other stores. until someone who currently works there is willing to step up with their name, i’m not going to attack a company without facts that can be verified.


  • Just saw the weaving theme in the Americana Glendale store Friday night – looks fabulous! Look forward to hearing more about their merchandise policies and displays. I have heard about product destruction by a high-end fashion designer too, but never read any actual proof.

  • I am the Visual Manager of a Southern California Anthropologie Store! Thank you for showing off and loving our windows and displays! Anthropologie is a fabulous company and I am inspired by my job daily!

  • I think you have just changed my life. Seriously.
    This little article has just motivated me to change my career. MY DREAAAAAM JOB!

  • In regards to unsold merchandise, I can only speak about the Seattle stores. I worked behind the scenes and regularly saw unsold merchandise getting boxed up and shipped to women’s shelters. Our city has strict recycling rules and the Seattle Anthro stores have recycling bins. The one thing I would have liked to have seen happen is better reuse policies on dismantled displays. Very often we’d have customers wanting to buy portions of store and window displays. When the display comes down, most of it is thrown out. I did see a few exceptions- logs and wood would get listed on Craig’s List, etc if it can’t be used at later date.

  • you know, i really hope someone who doesnt want to work for the company does come forward at some point. check out this link too:


    i mean really, i dont think any of us should be blind to this. huge companies are doing it. and why would a company like anthropologie who prides themselves on exclusivity and “rare or original” products donate it all to charity or salvation army? ive never once seen any brand of anthropologie clothing in a salvation army, thrift store, etc.

    check out the comments below to that link. i really DOUBT so many people in the world are continuing a big lie or conspiracy against anthropologie/UO/free people. what are they getting out of it to do that? nothing.

    i hope more people start to pressure them for the TRUTH.

    • stephanie

      truth is the operative word here. i’ll be interested to see if anyone can get a current employee of anthro to admit or provide proof that this happens. i don’t think anthro goods not being seen in local salvation army stores (i’ve seen them here in nyc, though) means they’re up to something bad. but we’ll see. i’d really love to hear from anthro employees here…


  • I love anthro windows! They are so great! It is probably my favorite store to shop in.

    As for their left over clothing, where I live it is sold at a discount store called Gabriels, which is like TJ Maxx. They even have a sign that says Anthropologie above it. I wonder if any has ever seen it at other discount stores?

  • i’ve never seen anthro clothes being sold at discount stores. however, i have seen free people clothing, which is also brand under urban outfitters, being sold at marshalls.

  • One of the windows I worked on a few weeks ago during an internship is featured here! The second row of thumbnails right in the middle is from the Bridgeport Village store just outside of Portland, Oregon.

  • i’ve worked for anthropologie for SEVEN years, and we have always donated “dimed out” apparel to a local womens shelter. on the rare occasion that a particular style is repeatedly found to be defective in some way, it is shipped back to the vendor to repair any quality issues. any broken or damaged furniture or home product at my store has either been marked down and sold “as-is”, or re-used as a store prop. we even recycle our used paper.

  • I know for a fact that some unsold and damages merchandise makes it’s way to mark down stores like Gabriel Brothers (locations in PA, OH, MD). I know because I’ve bought off/last season stuff on the cheap! Ooo I see Lisa above me mentioned Gabes too (Lisa; don’t you love Gabes?)

    In terms of the windows. Wow, wow, wow!!! I only wish I could have such an awesome job.

  • Gorgeous! I always found HUGE inspiration in Anthro’s windows when I lived in Seattle. I also love “Barney’s”. As a former display person, I admire their commitment to have creative people on staff and to promote store individuality. It is rare in these times. As and artist, I have always enjoyed their creative approach to home and fashion. Great post!

  • I worked at a So Cal Anthro store until recently (I got too busy at my “real” job – so sad!). At our store, things that were to be “damaged out” – ie unsaleable because of damage – were further destroyed and thrown away. Like, a broken plate was smashed further or a badly torn shirt was torn more. I guess so they could not be “liberated” from the dumpster;) This stuff was disposed of, which sometimes seemed sad because I’d often liked to have reused the fabric to make into cushions or something. Things that had minor damage were usually just marked down.
    However, our dimed out merchandise was never destroyed. It was sent away and we know was sold at a reseller, which we always were dying to know more about. Now I know! I’m taking a trip to Gabriels!
    I would like to see Anthro as a company place more emphasis on sustainable practices. Our visual team was really good about trying to save and re-use things (partially because they do all this amazing stuff with a very very small budget – you would not believe), but I don’t feel like there was a real focus on recycling, etc from head office.

  • I should add that our VM tead was always really good about letting us take home items they were done with – like plants and decor. I have some huge plywood christmas decorations in my house from a few years ago – all my Anthro friends have bits and pieces of window displays at home.

  • Beautiful displays! I love that their VM team always uses the simplest materials to make these amazing displays! The true test of an artist in my opinion:)
    And it is very much my dream job also!

  • The images are awesome! Anthropologie displays are always so amazing…they never fail to get me super excited about design! As a structural engineer constantly seeking a creative outlet I often go to my local Anthropologie for inspiration! If the design team ever needs structural consultation…I’d totally be up for it! : )

  • I volunteered at a women’s shelter in the Dallas area for 3 years and we frequently distributed Anthro clothes to women in the job placement program. Tags were supposed to be removed beforehand but there were always a few that were missed.

    I have also purchased damaged clothes at deep discounts from Anthro. $10.00 for a $200+ dress that had a broken zipper. Thankfully I sew!

  • I second Janell’s comment about the last window display. They’re all fantastic, but the last one is amazing!

  • The whole store is amazing. I live in Melbourne so i’ve only ever been in 3 stores which was in 2006 and i quite literally wanted to live in them…amazing stuff!!

  • I am a current manager at an Anthropologie store and I assure everyone we only discard merchandise that is unrepairable. We donate items that are in good shape or in need of minor repairs to our local Salvation Army. Even our unsold holiday ornaments are donated to local charities as well as some of our larger display creations. Anthropologie is a wonderfully creative and socially responsible company to work for and I would hate for your readers to be misinformed.

  • Just a small footnote to this thread: there’s a book called The Bird Catcher by Laura Jacobs (a Vanity Fair writer) about creating window displays.

  • A basket weavers dream window display! I’ve always loved their catalogs and their windows are indeed inspiring. Thanks for posting these beauties.

  • I have worked in management at both Urban and Anthro and we made a huge effort to deeply discount things until they sold as to not waste. Broken housewares like plates and glasses are obviously thrown away because of the danger of having cutomers handle broken ceramics and glass. Things that just won’t sell on the floor are sent off to be resold, I have never seen anyone intentionally destroy clothing. Also anthro, urban, and free people clothing can all be found at rugged warehouse and other discount places. Holiday items are donated at the end of every season. I have read though quite a few of the articles claiming the destruction of items and they keep quoting the same few people.

  • Hi, for all the people that asked who comes up with the windows ideas. Well, I worked at Anthropologie doing the windows display (I’m a Graphic Designer) and the main idea comes from Headquarters. Then. they tell all the stores the theme for the season and the materials that would be used. Each store has to use those materials, but they have the freedom to come up with their own designs. It’s a team work.

  • I too am in love with Anthropologie’s window displays! I graduated with a master’s in architecture and would love to be part of their visual display team. My local anthropologie in New Orleans is hiring sales associates and I was thinking of applying with hopes of eventually/ hopefully becoming part of the vd team, does anyone know if this is possible to do or is the vd team hired from the home office as opposed to in store? I just need a way to get my foot in the door being that the store isn’t currently hiring for the visual display team. Thoughts?

  • Ive worked at anthro and, yes, some things end up in the garbage. This is not the only company that handles excess merchandise in this way, Hallmark is another. This year they destroyed thousands of Christmas recordable storybooks and blatantly told their employees to hide the destroyed product in black trash bags, because it was not able to be recycled. Hallmark stipulated that they had donated enough and the employees did not need to worry about it. Companies everywhere call the destruction of perfectly decent merchandise, Best Practice! My thought…Even making a dollar off of the item seems more practical then tossing it.

  • These are WONDERFUL. Do you by chance know what materials they used to bend the wood? Is it wood? Did they steam it? Thank you! Great job Anthro!

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