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Brands Build Buzz with Pop-ups

Fashion houses were particularly active this season, enticing consumers with pop-up stores on both sides of the Atlantic.

Fashion houses were particularly active this season, enticing consumers with pop-up stores on both sides of the Atlantic. In Milan, Chloé, which has no monobrand boutique in Italy, took up temporary residence at Corso Como to give a platform to its 16-piece reedition collection, part of its 60th anniversary festivities.

In Paris, Topshop, which is currently scouting for a location in the French capital, made an ephemeral appearance at Galeries Lafayette, while Vanessa Bruno decided to turn her fling with New York into a long-term affair.

“It’s been so successful, we’ve realized New York is the place to be. It’s a very strong market for us,” says Bruno’s Marie-Anne Capdeville. “We will keep the pop-up until June at least. If we can’t stay longer, we will find something else for sure.”

Pop-ups are as fun as they are convenient. The idea is “to create a little buzz around a brand, without the long-term risks and investments of a permanent retail outpost. It’s also a kind of cost-savvy solution to get a foot in the market,” explains Japanese designer Miharayasuhiro, who feted his first pop-up in Paris’ Joyce Gallery with a koto concert and sakura liquor during fashion week. He calls it “a communication strategy to import our concept to Paris and be able to show our complete collection, as we do in Tokyo.” This included exclusive pieces the designer produced in collaboration with Bette Ridgeway and Jun Inoue, with which he “managed to attract some new clients who didn’t know the brand.”

Also at the Joyce Gallery, Mugler showed off its first handbag collection, before it officially hit stores around the globe. The brand plans a second pop-up at the Gallery, which will run until May 31, to present its summer ready-to-wear line for men and women.

Dior orchestrated not one but at an entire series of temporary boutiques around the globe—starting with Colette in Paris. The brand was looking for something different to introduce Raf Simons’ fresh take on its codes to a wider, preferably younger, audience.

Topshop’s chief marketing officer Justin Cooke explains he always has the next generation in mind when popping up some place. “Pop-ups give us the opportunity to test and play before we have our own physical space [and they] help us engage with a new customer.”

Cooke tested the strategy in Chicago and Los Angeles, where the British retailer “built up a strong local customer” before the actual store opened. Last year, the brand launched topshop.fr, an e-commerce site in French, which he says “is growing at a rapid rate.”

“We also see a huge number of girls coming from Paris just to shop on Oxford Street, so we know there is a huge appetite for the brand and we [wanted] to understand that better,” he says, adding that “pop-ups definitely create a buzz and almost always sell through all the stock, creating higher demand.”

There is only one disadvantage, cautions Colette’s forward-thinking Sarah Andelman: “Too many pop-up shops kill pop-up shops. Now I’m not sure we can still use this expression.…” Andelman cites “a show” on “Keith Haring & Fashion” running at Colette until May 3. “We’ll carry many Keith Haring products in our gallery space, so it’s a kind of ‘pop-up shop,’ but we don’t announce it this way anymore.”