A rendering of Maison-de-Mode's pop-up shop at Houston Galleria.

Ethical luxury retailer Maison-de-Mode has teamed with Simon Property Group to open a pop-up shop on April 9 at the Houston Galleria in time for Earth Month. Maison-de-Mode, primarily an e-commerce business, typically launches several pop-up shops each year.

The partnership with Simon marks the brand’s first foray into shopping centers. Located in a former Rolex store on the Galleria’s second level, next to Saks Fifth Avenue, Maison-de-Mode will feature Edun, Prabal Gurung, Tome, Amour Vert, Khokho, Behno, Bottletop, Azlee, Bibi van der Velden and Brother Vellies, among others.

“This is the beginning of a great alliance with Simon. Their portfolio of leading luxury properties in top markets around the country is a key asset for us as we explore our physical future,” said co-founder Hassan Pierre, adding, “their many locations allow the flexibility we need as a digital platform to reach our dedicated regional customers as well as tapping into their built-in customer base.”

“We have our eyes set on Fashion Valley in San Diego and Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif., and Miami in the near future,” said co-founder Amanda Hearst.

While Hassan and Hearst couldn’t project sales for the Houston pop-up because they don’t yet have shopping center experience, they said sales volume for a week-long pop-up in Manhattan or Miami ranges from $20,000 to $30,000. Pop-up shops account for about 30 percent of the company’s total turnover.

Hassan wondered aloud why a huge developer such as Simon would lavish attention on a small company like Maison. “It’s interesting that a major mall developer would take a chance on a small brand that’s sustainable and ethical,” he said. “That says a lot about the retail temperature of the marketplace. The climate of the fashion industry has really tanked. This is mutually beneficial for Simon and for Maison-de-Mode. Customers want experiences.

“We’re picking different locations, because the goal for us is to acquire new customers,” Hearst said. “That’s why we choose high traffic locations. Because we have a great curation, people buy the products. We’re trying to marry the idea of, yes, it’s a beautiful bag, but did you know it was made by hand in Lebanon?” Prices will range from $70 for accessories to $10,000 for fine jewelry.

Maison-de-Mode tries to balance giving customers too much information about sustainability and not enough. Hassan said the Maison’s goal is to pique consumers’ interest to do some research on the topic.

A former member of the Boffo architectural team created the design for the pop-up. “We focused a lot on waste reduction,” Hassan said, explaining that Maison recycled some elements from last year’s Earth Day collaboration with Bloomingdale’s. “We’re continuing the theme of pink carpets and convoluted foam and wall hangings made  out of pink milk cartons.”

Apparel will be displayed hung from wires or in the case of shoes and handbags on sliding hanging shelves attached to  flexible tracks arranged in concentric circles on the ceiling. The display will work along the lines of a zip line or dry cleaners’ garment conveyor. “You’ll be able to move things around,” Hassan said. “If you wanted to see something that was on the other side of the store you’d pull the line. Every time someone uses the display, there will be a new configuration of merchandise in the store.”

Hearst said Maison-de-Mode plans to open a permanent store – eventually. “Right now, we really enjoy the pop-ups,” she said. “It will be a natural extension to have a brick-and-mortar store at some point, possibly in two to three years.”

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