By and  on August 6, 2009

Seven For All Mankind and Gap Inc. are taking advantage of the wealth of empty storefronts around the country to open denim pop-up shops.

Gap will open a pop-up store on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles on Friday featuring its 1969 selvage denim collection, while Seven For All Mankind unveils its Wash House temporary-shop concept on Boston’s Newbury Street on Aug. 14.

Gap’s 1969 collection was relaunched this year for the company’s 40th anniversary with medium-weight denim and contemporary cuts, including skinny, straight-leg and boyfriend styles, and a $70 price point. The denim push is part of the two-year effort of Patrick Robinson, Gap’s executive vice president of design, to reinvigorate the brand and reclaim the retailer’s position as a denim authority.

“L.A. has always been the epicenter for the latest trends in premium denim,” Robinson said. “It’s the city people look to to find out what’s new and cool. That’s why we’re bringing our 1969 jeans pop-up shop to Robertson Boulevard.”

The store will host a launch party tonight, with Joel Madden, lead singer of Good Charlotte, as DJ.

The company is paying $40,000 a month for two months for the long-vacant, 2,000-square-foot space through the end of September.

The street has seen a number of tenants relocate away from the area over the last year, such as Madison, Diavolina, Peter Alexander and American Apparel. New tenants that have or will soon debut along the several-block shopping stretch include Moods of Norway, All Saints and Beach Bunny swimwear.

There are no plans to open additional pop-up stores, although a similar concept will open in Gap’s “white space” in Manhattan on Aug. 13. The store space, which houses Gap promotional and artistic design concepts on a rotating basis, is adjacent to the Gap store on Fifth Avenue. The brand will highlight its denim line in New York City with an initiative dubbed “Born to Fit,” which integrates customers’ stories about what they were “born” to do.

Meanwhile, Seven is developing the Wash House concept as a way to test new markets while seeding the ground for permanent stores. The 2,000-square-foot Newbury Street store will be its first in Boston and will be open for six months.

“For Boston, it’s a fun, cool way of doing it,” said Aaron Battista, Seven’s vice president of retail. “Boston is going to be a permanent home for us anyway, but we’re just trying to find a permanent place on Newbury Street.”

Wash House stores will feature a “stripped-down and deconstructed” design style, said Battista. The Boston shop will keep the original hardwood floors, use vintage fixtures found from local supply stores and will have a denim bar constructed out of plywood. It’s a stark contrast to the look of the label’s 18 permanent U.S. stores, which feature the use of dark wood, marble and steel.

Denim will also get the emphasis, with jeans accounting for 80 percent of the assortment and the remainder devoted to a limited selection of the brand’s sportswear offerings.

Battista said Boston will likely be the only Wash House store opened this year, but the concept could come into play as part of Seven’s plans to open 20 stores in 2010. The opportunities to introduce temporary units in high-profile locations have increased as boutiques and other retail outlets have been forced to shutter as a result of the recession.

“I think there’s a lot of creativity in the real estate world right now,” said Battista. “Usually it’s pretty straightforward...but we’ve really found some landlords that are very flexible.”

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