The Critic’s Corner: 3 Fashion Pop-Up Shops That Got It Right

What makes your pop-up shops stand out from the pack?

In an over-saturated period of fashion pop-up shops and collaborations, standing out from the pack is more important than ever. Interestingly enough, while bigger brands are taking over with pop-ups as part of experiential retail strategies, it’s the smaller businesses who are making an impact. So what’s a pop-up and what makes one special and unique?

A pop-up is a short-term brand experience in a short-term space. A pop-up used to refer to pop-up shops only, but now it doesn’t necessarily have to be a retail sales point.

“Eckhaus Latta: Possessed” (NYC)

Eckhaus Latta’s retail shop within their exhibition at The Whitney drives this point home. Eckhaus Latta’s designers were invited to participate because of their artful approach to creating and presenting clothes. The resulting installation features their versions of some famous ad campaigns and editorials, a room featuring video surveillance action from other parts of the exhibit and a functional retail shop of limited edition E.L. pieces- sales associates and all.

It may not end up generating a lot of sales. However, it’s still valuable that attendees can interact with the brand and have the option of taking home a piece of the experience. It’s like any great experience on your travels that you’d like to take home with you (local crafts, local spices, concert merch…). The Whitney experience is an innovative way to make it happen, but it can also be done through exclusive releases and collaborations.

I think this is such a cool and smart way to bridge art and fashion while making it transactional.

AYR Beach House (Sag Harbor, NY)

A lot of big brands invest heavily in one-off or annual Hamptons pop-up shops. As for smaller brands, we’ve seen less of them make the leap since they require significant investing. That didn’t get in the way of AYR. We’ve been on the heels of all of their marketing, and their Sag Harbor summer destination pop-up is as creative as anything else they’ve put into action.

Pop-ups aren’t new to AYR; they’ve been using them from the start. However, it’s really advanced for a smaller brand to invest in a seasonal pop-up. Is it expensive? Yes. But it’s a well-hedged risk to host a summer pop-up in the high-traffic Hamptons. Budget-strapped brands sometimes worry about where and how to make their next new investment. This was a smart way to elevate their brand.

Speaking of stores, they also leveraged the summer to debut their second permanent brick-and-mortar store: AYR VENICE in LA.

Nineteenth Amendment Traveling Trunk Shows (Various U.S. Cities)

Nineteenth Amendment is an interesting e-tailer selling made in the USA, ethically made goods from emerging fashion designers. Of course we all know it’s very costly to only sell online, so Nineteenth Amendment decided to hit the road this summer for a string of pop-up shops. Their traveling trunk shows create a sense of community, bringing like-minded fashion lovers together.

But what’s most clever about this pop-up strategy is that they’ve selected a string of smaller markets. These events aren’t in NYC, LA or Miami, but in Detroit, Albuquerque, the Florida Keys and Hudson, New York. It is so important to explore new markets. There’s a lot more business out there than the cities we tend to set our sights on.

The State of Fashion Pop-Up Shops in 2018

Fashion pop-up shops are getting a lot of meaningful attention this year. They’re no longer reserved for what would be otherwise vacant spaces. Commercial real estate developers have officially been paying attention. We’re seeing new retail sales spaces emerge that have been designed specifically for this format. Check out places like The Row DTLA, Platform and The Current at Boston Seaport. These are highly curated, vacant spaces specifically designed for pop-ups and brands.

Developers have started considering floor plans, experiential retail layouts and similar considerations to really facilitate the pop-up as a revenue stream. Property owners and property management companies also stand to benefit from the shift to short-term leases. One of the risks associated with long-term leases, is that the tenants don’t always maintain the buildings. Rents tend to be locked in at fixed prices too. But if someone owns a property and leases it for rotational pop-ups or other short-term arrangements, they can maintain the property better, ask for better rent during high-demand sales periods and accept lower rent during slower times. It just offers a lot more flexibility. From the perspective of a mall, rotational pop-ups allow all of a property’s businesses to benefit from the extra foot traffic, newness and experiential tie-ins.

Looking for expert guidance to launch a winning pop-up of your own? Our team of brand and retail strategists have you covered. Give us a call. We’ll help you develop a pop-up(s) that’s true to your brand’s DNA and optimized to meet your ROI. Contact us at 310.957.5264 or email us at hello@scalingretail.com.

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