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Special Feature – Adaptive Retail Spaces – Thinking Outside the Box

On its simplest level, a pop-up shop is a shop or store that is designed to be deliberately temporary, to quite literally ‘pop-up’ for a pre-arranged period of time to achieve a goal and then disappear again. This is done for many reasons, whether this is to test the market or location, offer something out of the ordinary to customers or provide alternative selections to a brand’s regular product range, they are becoming more commonplace in the world of retail. Here, RLI takes a closer look at the pop-up market.

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Cartier, Osaka, Japan

In her article entitled ‘What Are Pop-Up Shops and Do They Actually Work?’, Alyssa Mertes explains that a pop-up shop, also referred to as flash retailing, is a trend where a brand randomly opens up a sales space for a short amount of time before closing it down.

She goes on to say that the idea of this tactic is to generate interest, create a sense of urgency, and get people to come pay your business a visit for a fun, limited time event. The pop-ups are usually themed, feature some kind of exclusive giveaway or product and are entirely unique and memorable. As a strategy, pop-up shops are tapping into something that’s been missing from marketing for a long time – connection. You’re out there on the frontlines interacting with your target audience and in a world where our only connection is behind a screen, that can’t be undervalued.

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Aspen, US

In Nicholas Moore’s article ‘What is a pop-up shop? Everything you need to know to try short-term retail’ she explains that the concept of temporary shared retail spaces has been around for centuries (think markets or fairs) the term “pop-up retail” can be traced back to the late 90s. Media entrepreneur Patrick Courrielche ran an event called The Ritual Expo in Los Angeles in 1997. It was a one day event that brought together music, food and fashion in a single shopping experience. Nicknamed the one day “Ultimate Hipster Mall”, it was hugely successful with its mix of retail stores and experiences. In the years following The Ritual Expo many big brands including AT&T, Levi-Strauss, and Motorola worked with Courrielche to create pop-up shopping experiences across the US.

Over the next 20 years the modern pop-up retail store as we know it evolved. In the face of the so-called ‘retail apocalypse’ and the decline of the traditional retail model, flexible retail and pop-up stores have come to the fore. Moore explains that pop-up retail is hugely beneficial for customers, retailers and landlords alike. There’s a reason we’re seeing more and more of them. Often situated in places with high foot traffic, pop-up shops are a valid way to increase sales in an ever-changing retail world.

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Curated Makers, Battersea Power Station, London, UK

Today’s technology, such as chatbots, social media and virtual appointments, enables retailers to connect with customers online. Yet nothing quite replaces the face-to-face customer relationship. This is the opinion of Allie Decker in her article ‘Pop-Up Shop Ideas: Lessons From 16 Successful Shops to Help You Get Started’ and she goes on to explain that pop-up shops let digitally native retailers meet and get to know their customers. Pop-up shops allow customers and fans to “put a face with the name,” through a tangible brand experience. Moreover, at pop-up shops, customers can test products and give real-time feedback on merchandising.

Continuing, Decker argues that pop-up shops employ two powerful levers for your business: scarcity and word-of-mouth marketing. The temporary nature of a pop-up encourages customers to stop by and shop. Market both the start and end dates of your pop-up to enhance the feeling of scarcity. Pop-up shops can also double as content creation studios, where customers take photos and share content about your products. This user-generated content and referral marketing can build valuable buzz for otherwise “intangible” retail brands.

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Baby Dior
Miami, US

Global Examples of Pop-Up Stores
Earlier this year back in June, Gucci opened their Adidas x Gucci pop-ups in Los Angeles Melrose and South Coast’s Jewel Court. In addition to the two pop-up locations, there will be mini pop-ups within existing stores including: New York Wooster Street and Fifth Avenue, East Hampton, Miami’s Aventura Mall, Chicago Michigan Ave, Houston Galleria, Atlanta Lenox, and Holt Renfrew Toronto Yorkdale. On Friday 10 June, the ephemeral pop-up spilled onto Melrose Place for a special two day immersive outdoor experience featuring bleachers, a basketball court and picnic tables. Guests danced around the Adidas x Gucci street takeover while DJ Mazerbate and DJ Huney Cut took over the turntables.

Saks hosted their first pop-up in Aspen this summer. Dubbed the VIP weekend, a crop of celebrities, influencers, and Saks regulars flew to the mountain town to visit the pop-up, which was located at 516 East Hyman Avenue and stayed open until 29 July. The Saks Aspen Pop-Up features an unparalleled assortment of luxury fashion including women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, swim, accessories and jewellery, in addition to on-demand personal styling and shopping services from Saks Stylists. The 2,000sq ft pop-up featured an eclectic mix of women’s and men’s fashion from top brands including Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Bottega Veneta, Chloé, Celine, Farm Rio, Isaia, Johanna Ortiz, Khaite, Kiton, Loewe, Missoni, Off-White, Staud, Versace, Zimmermann and more.

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Adidas x Gucci
Los Angeles, US

Dior has given its candy-coloured children’s collections a splashy Miami storefront with its new fun pop-up experience at Miami’s Design District. Dior has dreamt up the ideal shopping experience for those with little ones in tow, with the new Baby Dior Pop-Up, which opened in Miami’s Design District in June. The Dior in-house team designed the space to highlight the playful “childlike wonder” of the Baby Dior collections, including a ball pit, a screen displaying animations and more. The new Baby Dior pop-up is located at 3814 NE 2nd Ave until May 2023, where the full Baby Dior collection, as well as the entirety of the Fall-Winter 2022 & Spring-Summer 2023 seasons, will also be available to shop.

Luxury brand Cartier last year launched a pop-up in downtown Osaka, and the pop-up space offered an ephemeral retail area dedicated to its iconic Pasha watch. Sat on the prestigious Midosuji dori, the Pasha de Cartier pop-up store exuded elegance with a bold all-white façade and matching signage. The Pasha de Cartier pop-up housed 18 rare archive pieces, which allowed visitors to explore the roots of the iconic Pasha watch which was first introduced in 1980.

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A Cold-Wall,
Doha, Qatar

The Italian luxury fashion house based in Milan, Bottega Veneta launched an innovative new pop-up space in August at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The space which showcased mini-bags was the first pop-up for the brand in Singapore. The interior of the pop-up was inspired by scaffolding featuring Parakeet as the main colour. A range of mini-bag styles were available on-site, displayed together in various colours. The new mini Cabat and mini Cassette camera bag were also featured. Together with the pop-up, the Towelling capsule was also available exclusively at the Bottega Veneta store at Marina Bay Sands. The pop-up remained open until 6 September.

Last year Dior launched two Dioriviera pop-ups in Mykonos, Greece and they were situated on the famous Ilha dos Vontos and were the precursor to Dior’s long-awaited Cruise collection. Mykonos was the perfect location for Dior’s delicate sailor blouses, Mitzah scarves and J’Adior bracelets, all from the Dioriviera concept. The stores also housed timeless summer essentials, as well as Dior decorative objects, which celebrated ‘summer escapism and the art of living.’

Not always retail-based, leisure destinations and activations can also be utilised as pop-up spaces. An example of this is Youseum’s new social media pop-up experience that has opened in Germany. At this activation visitors can explore how they use social media and create captivating content in 15 unique areas. Youseum, an immersive social media museum, has opened a new pop-up attraction at Westfield Centro in Oberhausen, Germany. Youseum’s fourth location comes after the opening of venues in Stockholm, Sweden, and Amsterdam and Leidschendam in the Netherlands. The company’s first pop-up destination is an “innovative experience that explores how we perceive ourselves and others in the digital sphere,” according to a news release on the opening. As well as a TikTok experience, the attraction features hidden passageways, slides, swings and optical illusions.

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The Autumn Equinox Energy Attunement
Nobu Hotels, Santorini, Greece

Earlier this year luxury lifestyle brand Nobu Hotels launched its first pop-up wellness concept in partnership with London mind and body studio, House of Wisdom and energy healer, Bella Ava Georgiou: The Autumn Equinox Energy Attunement. The Autumn Equinox Energy Attunement retreat is a deeply nurturing and empowering weekend of self-care that comprises of two daily group sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, open to hotel guests and external visitors alike. Guided by House of Wisdom’s expert teacher, Bella Ava Georgiou, guests can attend potent and intimate healing ceremonies taking place in the whimsical setting of Nobu Hotel Santorini’s outdoor pool deck and firepit area.

The British brand Burberry travelled to Jondal, a chiringuito based in a cove on Ibiza’s southern coast for an immersive takeover pop-up earlier this year celebrating the latest Thomas Burberry Summer Monogram collection. The collaboration sees a bespoke version of Burberry‘s new design enclosed in black and brown borders taking over the location’s sun loungers, daybeds, deckchairs, and more. Pieces with the motif inspired by the brand’s founder Thomas Burberry and introduced by chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci, could also be shopped at the pop-up store on the Jondal beachfront.

Tiffany & Co unveiled an experiential year-long pop-up store in Paris back in June amid its global repositioning under LVMH. The pop-up on 34 Avenue Montaigne, Paris’s luxury thoroughfare, located next to the new Dior flagship (in the former space occupied by Dior jewellery that merged into the new Dior flagship) will be open until May 2023 and will change themes several times throughout the year, kicking off with “Paris in love” theme. The opening, albeit temporary and in a small format, is just one in a 300-strong store portfolio that analysts suggest needs a significant repositioning to align with LVMH’s planned upscale.

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Burberry Summer Capsule
Casa Jondal, Ibiza

Back in May this year, British designer label A-Cold-Wall began a six-week “residency” at the Doha Festival City Mall in Qatar. The pop-up was located in the three-storey Harvey Nichols store there. The pop-up was part of an expansion for the brand into more physical stores in multiple regions, including Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Carrying the SS22 collection, the space was conceived in-house by the brand’s creative team and “reflects established A-Cold-Wall design codes, an evolving architectural programme tying global retail spaces together”. Alongside consistent visual elements echoing modernist and industrial principles, the Harvey Nichols Doha area “is defined by a series of powder coated volt yellow x-frames, lending the space an open feel while signalling a note of bold optimism”.

Curated Makers, a retail concept that links local independent artists and makers with the high street, will be opening its first pop-up in London at Battersea Power Station on Friday 14 October 2022. The unique store will host more than 40 local independent small businesses selling homeware, candles, clothing, artwork and much more. Since launching in 2017, the Manchester-based marketplace champion has hosted a series of pop-ups in large stores and shopping centres including John Lewis, M&S, Paperchase and Next. Having received the government’s Innovate UK Young Innovators grant with an initial investment of £5,000 in 2020 and more recently with a Follow-on Fund of £50,000 in 2022, the business is going from strength to strength.