Who needs a runway show, when you can open a four-month pop-up store?
While many past and current designers participating in New York Fashion Week weigh the upsides and downsides of staging a show, others are paving new routes to tie into the buzz. For Misha Nonoo, that means unveiling a 2,300-square-foot pop-up at 130 Greene Street on Monday.
The New York-based designer will offer a variety of her signature pieces, but shoppers won’t find anything that she helped develop in conjunction with her friend Meghan Markle’s yet-to-be-released Marks & Spencer collection. The Duchess of Sussex’s Smart Works capsule collection is reportedly debuting Thursday and will benefit the charity that helps unemployed women.
Having ditched wholesale for a direct-to-consumer business model nearly three years ago, Nonoo decided on the SoHo location based on analytics culled from online sales. To give the pop-up “a good run,” it will be during the key fall and holiday selling seasons. “Based on how the location works for us and how everything else works out in the store, we’d love for the space to become permanent. We’ll see if we decide to stay in that exact location or we move around. But New York is such an important part of our story, our customer and our community that we fully intend to have a permanent space.“
Taking a page from Tesla, the pop-up will be an inventory-less showroom model so that shoppers can try on specific styles and once ordered, they will be shipped directly to them. The on-demand manufacturing is meant to be a more sustainable business. The $450 Florence blazer dress, the $250 Ivy pant, the $185 Husband shirt, the $70 Boyfriend tank, the $70 Girlfriend T, the $155 Sunday sweatshirt and $225 cashmere sweaters are expected to be the bestsellers, according to Nonoo, who will host a cocktail party Monday night.
The designer was less chatty — in fact, completely buttoned-up — about her involvement with the Markle-backed collection. Nonoo fell silent when asked whether she planned to attend this weekend’s U.S. Open, where Markle is expected to cheer on Serena Williams, or see Markle during her New York City sojourns.
But back to the pop-up. Along with Nonoo’s designs, there will be products from other women-owned brands like The Laundress, Sarah Flint, Bee & Kin, Negative Underwear and more. The idea is to dress women from head-to-toe, “to help her think about how she looks after the longevity of her clothes and that we are a sustainable fashion brand in how we manufacture,” Nonoo said, adding that laundering choices is something else that she would like them to consider.
Special events are being planned for the pop-up and a four-day women’s conference will be held next month. At the pop-up, there will be classes with Sky Ting Yoga and the meditation studio MNDFL, a sustainable flower masterclass with Aurora Botanica, talks with Bobbi Brown and Alexa Von Tobel and a live podcast recording with Nonoo and The Skimm. “Fashion week is something that we look at in a slightly different way, because we don’t have a wholesale business anymore. It’s all direct-to-consumer. I do believe in having these cultural moments. I just think that the way we will continue to look at them will evolve. I don’t think it will necessarily be in a typical show setting again,” she said.
Not about to call fashion shows passé, Nonoo said there is a place for them culturally, citing grander events like ones by the late Alexander McQueen. “Or some of the Chanel events are extraordinary even though they are not necessarily sustainable. The idea of showing clothes to wholesale buyers and promoting that through social media or press with the customer not able to buy them for six months, that feels outdated to me,” Nonoo said.
There is a more pressing matter to tend to. Engaged to Michael Hess, Nonoo is designing her own wedding dress. Asked if that was harrowing, she laughed, “No, it’s going to be great — fingers crossed.” (There was no word on when the wedding will be held.) The “very close family affair” means no details will be released, she said. As for balancing the public-seeking aspects of her profession with the privacy of her personal life, Nonoo said, “It’s walking a fine line. I love interacting with the customer. When we opened our store in London, it was such a wonderful experience. Getting to meet the ladies who were already followers of the brand or introducing people to the collection for the first time was a really lovely experience,” she said, adding that customers respect her having a private life. “From that perspective, it’s not difficult. But sometimes people are interested in relationships that I really can’t comment on.”
Meaning Markle? “No, anybody who is not myself. I am not at liberty to talk about anyone but myself. It’s not one specific person or whatever. I get asked about lots of different people all the time, but I only comment on myself.”