The mash-up between digital and traditional brick-and-mortar retail continues to be a strategy for Simon Property Group and Refinery29.
The two came together last fall to create The Shopping Block pop-up marketplace concept at six malls in a partnership that’s proving a much more lasting strategy to drive business than one-off marketing ploy.
The two companies are set to launch a series of music-themed shopping events called Style Festival at six Simon properties, beginning June 20 with the Brea Mall in north Orange County. Videos the two worked on together are also set to launch soon.
“I think we see this as an ongoing partnership with Refinery… every year certainly and potentially maybe every season going forward,” said Chidi Achara, Simon’s senior vice president and global creative director. “We want to evolve and fine tune and change the dynamics of the experience to keep it fresh and relevant and exciting. The whole philosophy behind this partnership is that we’re creating these new bespoke exciting experiences that you wouldn’t find in a shopping mall.”
It’s an interesting concept as property owners aim to remain relevant among a new breed of shopper that’s always online amid a wave of brands that have grown up on the Web.
The Brea Mall event includes a concert featuring MS MR, pop-up beauty bars and shopping that weaves in national brands, such as H&M and Banana Republic, alongside local independent businesses. The musical acts are expected to change with each location. Attendees will receive all access passes, in keeping with the festival theme, that can be used to receive discounts at some of the existing mall tenants.
The indie businesses are seen as a key part of the equation in bridging the traditional mall experience with the Refinery brand.
“I don’t think there would be much of a logic behind doing these sorts of events if we were only pulling from our national brands because they’re already available to shop in the mall space,” Achara said. “What makes this special and what makes this different is we can integrate the more established [brands] with the new and relatively unknown.”
The small businesses benefit from boosts in sales, as seen with last year’s Shopping Block, according to Achara, and the malls see more traffic and some new customers.
“There were definitely new shoppers that were drawn to the Refinery name and their offering, but I also think alongside that it was a lot of our existing shopper base who were being reenergized and were definitely seeing the mall in a new light,” he said.
Style Festival runs through the summer with the final event scheduled for Aug. 8 at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
The two companies are also collaborating on two different video series that Achara described as being on the “verge of launching” and “one piece of the puzzle of a much broader engagement and collaboration with Refinery29.”