PARIS — Life’s a beach for luxury brands, who are ramping up their efforts to cater to customers in summer holiday destinations with in-season merchandise and convenient pop-up locations.
A popular spot this summer is Nammos Village on the Greek island of Mykonos, which celebrated its opening in June with a party that drew Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss and Emily Ratajkowski. Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Dundas and Christian Louboutin are just some of the brands that have opened temporary stores in the shopping resort.
Others are back in favored spots, with Loewe returning to Ibiza for the fourth year running with its ongoing collaboration with Paula’s Ibiza founder Armin Heinemann, as well as hosting an event celebrating the launch of its new eyewear collection, which drew influencers such as Pernille Teisbaek and Bryan Grey Yambao.
Chanel has been operating its annual pop-up store in Saint-Tropez since 2010, and has another temporary store in Capri, Italy, that is one of a clutch of locations worldwide to stock its new Coco Beach capsule collection, which includes everything from bikinis to denim pieces, bags and espadrilles.
“Pop-ups have always been an original way for us to show another facet of the brand,” said Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel.
“The idea is not to add another boutique, but to surprise our customers with a specific take, which is the reason why in Saint-Tropez, for example, we completely change the design every year,” he added.
“We have around 25 seaside boutiques worldwide where the summer season is somewhat at odds with the offer in store, because normally in July and August, we stock the winter collection. In Saint-Tropez, people are wearing swimsuits and they don’t necessarily feel like trying on cashmere coats,” Pavlovsky noted.
That’s why Karl Lagerfeld, who has been the brand’s creative director since 1983, recently launched the swimwear capsule alongside a skiwear line dubbed Coco Neige, in addition to the six ready-to-wear collections he already designs for the house, in order to better meet customers’ seasonal requirements.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of women’s collections at Dior, came up with a collection of exclusive pieces for its Mykonos pop-up, scheduled to run until Oct. 15. It includes bracelets and sandals, as well as cotton pareos bearing the slogan J’adior Mykonos.
Pietro Beccari, chief executive officer of Dior, noted that although the brand has permanent stores in resort towns including Cannes and Portofino, the pop-up represents a compelling new addition to its retail arsenal.
“It’s a nice experiment that we did and probably will do more in the future, to give people going on vacation the opportunity to meet Dior wearing another type of dress,” he said. “The pop-ups in summer locations are really beautiful, because they can make the brand visible under another light.”
Giambattista Valli is also expanding his offer of poolside looks as part of the activewear collection he unveiled this year. “I thought it was a nice follow-up to the sport collection: something that is activewear for a Valli girl,” he said of the caftans and swim separates he showed alongside his resort collection.
The designer acknowledged his crop tops and high-waisted briefs were not necessarily designed to hit the water. “I’m not a label of technical swimsuits, like Eres or Speedo or whatever. I’m somebody that works in fashion, so when I work on an item that is out of my technology, I work on it in an aesthetic way,” he explained.
Valli, who plans to open a permanent store in Doha, Qatar, in early September, said it was important to cater to different climates all year round, and not just during the Northern Hemisphere summer.
“This has always been one of my considerations and it’s very funny, because 12 years ago when I started my label, everybody was criticizing me for showing winter clothes that were too summery. Now everybody is doing summer in the winter,” he said.
“When it’s winter in your country, it’s summer in another one, so you have to always include something that is seasonless,” he reasoned.
For Loewe, the summer mood is especially easy to tap into, according to Pascale Lepoivre, the ceo of the Spanish brand owned by French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
“Loewe’s headquarters and largest flagship are situated at the very heart of Madrid, and our second largest store is in Barcelona. In both cities, the thermometer quickly registers over 35 degrees [Celsius], so I guess we start thinking of summer and the beach very early in the season,” she remarked.
Now in its second year, Loewe’s collaboration with Paula’s Ibiza is rooted in creative director Jonathan Anderson’s recollections of early holidays on the island.
“From the very beginning, Jonathan’s approach to Spain was influenced by his childhood memories of Ibiza where his parents own a home, and we both believe that summer, along with a sense of lightness and spontaneity, are essential dimensions that as a Spanish brand Loewe should own and develop further,” Lepoivre explained.
This year, the capsule collection has been extended to men’s wear, featuring archival prints ranging from polka dots, beach flags and mermaids to circus characters and hummingbirds, all in vivid colors.
“We have injected more whimsical elements such as metallic sequins and wooden beads, and reinforced the real-life dimension of the collection with practical garments and accessories actually meant to go on the beach: sundresses, fringed shorts, terry towel ponchos or hoodies, woven raffia or sisal basket bags,” she said.
The Paula’s Ibiza line is sold not just at the pop-up, located at Ibiza’s Museum of Contemporary Art, but throughout Loewe’s retail network and through some wholesale partners like Net-a-porter.
“The combination of relaxed pieces, exuberant prints and elaborate detailing is a perfect way to leverage the craftsmanship of Loewe, while bringing the beaches and vibrant lifestyle of Spain to our customers worldwide. Through pop-ups, pop-ins and spectacular windows, the capsule also allows us to present the full scope of our offer in places where Loewe’s ready-to-wear is not yet fully deployed,” Lepoivre said.
“Paula’s Ibiza capsule hits the stores end of April, which makes sense in the fashion agenda as it’s one of the relatively quiet period in terms of novelty. Yet on-the-spot impulse shopping is a key ingredient of a successful summer break, but classically most brands would have switched to full fall mode, which is frustrating. We will maintain our presence in Ibiza for the next edition, and are actively seeking new seaside locations for next year,” she added.
Oscar de la Renta opened its first pop-up in Boston earlier this year and is experimenting with several locations this summer, often in conjunction with charity events it is sponsoring. In addition to its pop-up in Mykonos, the brand will have a temporary presence in Newport, R.I., and Montecito, Calif.
“As a general matter, now is a good time to experiment in retail. I think that there are tremendous vacancies around the world in various locations that were once fought over, so we are looking at really many options in terms of retail experimentation,” said Alex Bolen, ceo of Oscar de la Renta.
“The experiments have to be designed in such a way that it makes sense to do something that’s short-term, and really the complications are inventory, staffing and then the leasehold improvements — these very boring things, not such glamorous things, but the realities of retail,” he added.
Its Nammos Village pop-up was staffed by sales associates from its Athens store. The unit, set to remain open through mid-October, carries an exclusive capsule collection of tunics, caftans, palazzo pants, swimwear and towel ponchos, as well as sunglasses from Oscar de la Renta’s collaboration with Morgenthal Frederics.
“Things are changing, obviously, quite dramatically with bricks-and-mortar around the world and digital initiatives. Nammos Village is great exposure for us and it’s something that we can do relatively easily given our Athens location,” Bolen said. “For us, it is not so much a strategy as an opportunistic situation.”
Its pop-up in Newport is designed to coincide with the “Art of Fashion” Artists’ Ball scheduled to be held at the Newport Art Museum on July 20, while the temporary space at Montecito Country Mart will open in tandem with the Lotusland Celebrates fund-raising gala in Santa Barbara on July 28.
“We think about ways to magnify our impact. We’ll see whether that continues in the future,” said Bolen, who expects to be back in Nammos Village next summer.
The Christian Louboutin summer shop in Mykonos, run with its long-term Greek partner Enny di Monaco, was a first for the brand. While it has partnered on pop-ups with department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, this is the first time the label is occupying a temporary space for three months.
“For the time being, it’s going very well. We opened in May and we are very pleased with the feedback, both from our customers and in terms of sales,” said Alexis Mourot, Louboutin’s group chief operating officer and general manager. “It’s fresh and it’s new for us. We could do it again elsewhere — why not?”
Mourot noted the shoe brand does not have any stores in resort towns. “Normally, we tend to open stores that operate year-round, so this was a trial, because we have had a lot of offers from landlords to open in beach resorts across the world,” he said.
While Louboutin did not produce a capsule collection for the location, the product offer is skewed toward the 30 percent of its designs with heels of 70 mm., or 2.75 inches, or less.
“This is something people are not very aware of, that we have been developing for the last two or three seasons. Since we have a collection that is among the largest on the market, with around 900 references per season, it is easy to stock a smaller boutique like Nammos with a selection of flat or low-heeled shoes,” Mourot said.
With a store design featuring mannequins’ legs poking out from beach towels suspended below the ceiling, the Louboutin space is designed to convey the designer’s sense of humor. “It’s a different way of communicating, because it’s fun, so we don’t see it purely as a retail operation,” Mourot noted.
For designer Peter Dundas and his partner Evangelo Bousis, travel is not a novelty, but a way of life. Their brand has eschewed permanent flagships in favor of a mobile concept that debuted in Los Angeles in April, drawing Beyoncé and her fellow Destiny’s Child band members to the opening party.
“We’re travelers and our company is based on traveling, so having this traveling flagship just makes sense for us, especially as our brand is only one year old,” said Bousis, the image director and cofounder of the Dundas brand.
“You can’t put all your money into actual physical stores. Right now, we’re still building our teams. Having five collections out in a year takes a lot of time and money for cash flow reasons. It gives you an opportunity to have these amazing spaces, but at the same time not having all the overhead that comes along with it,” he explained.
Dundas will be present in Mykonos this summer with a pop-up at multibrand store Luisa Beach in Nammos Village from July 28 to Aug. 5. A cocktail on the first night is expected to draw socials including Eugenie Niarchos, Bianca Brandolini and Marie-Chantal and Maria-Olympia of Greece.
“We’re obviously very happy to be doing it, because it is a destination that a lot of our clients go to and we spend a lot of time there ourselves,” said Dundas, who met Bousis on the island and returns there regularly.
The pop-up is stocked with his second collection, D2, a seasonless wardrobe specifically designed to cater to the nomadic lifestyle of devotees including Brandolini, Georgia May Jagger, Giovanna Battaglia and Poppy Delevingne.
“You have your girl in mind and what she needs at the moment when she will be receiving the clothes. One of the goals with creating the brand was to create an even stronger connection with our client as well by really tapping into that, but I believe it’s something that every designer does,” he remarked.
And the party doesn’t end in summer, either. The next Dundas traveling flagship lands on Mercer Street in New York in September, and his spring 2019 collection, aka D5, was chock-a-block with sparkly evening dresses.
“At the end of November, beginning of December when the clothes will drop, it’s party season — that could either be in St. Moritz or in St. Barts,” Bousis said.