In this age of abundant experiential retail, Edens, the owner and developer of Union Market in Washington, D.C., is giving that formula a high-speed shot.
In time for the start of the Washington Kastles’ upcoming season, Edens has built tennis courts and a venue on the roof of Union Market. With a seating capacity of 700, the stadium there will host seven matches for the six-time World Team Tennis champions starting on July 25. In addition to luxury seating and courtside boxes, there will be a retail component for fans to dress the part. Union Market is also setting up pop-ups for such companies as She’s Here, Pina + Coco, Wonder for People and Sweats Boutique.
To celebrate the new stadium on The Rooftop at Union Market and the start of the Team Tennis season, Edens said Kastles’ standout and 23-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams would offer her EleVen activewear label at a pop-up shop. But a spokeswoman for Williams and her EleVen brand disputed that Friday, stating that the tennis ace and her company’s chief executive officer have said “that that is not currently happening.” The spokeswoman allowed, “There were negotiations that were going on. But as of yesterday, there was no pop-up shop happening.”
Asked to confirm there would not be a pop-up shop this summer at The Rooftop, the Williams’ spokeswoman said, “If something changes and we do a new deal with them and maybe have a pop-up shop down-the-line that’s something separately. As of now, there is no pop-up shop happening.”
One Washington Kastles representative said Friday that the pop-up’s opening would coincide with Williams’ July 25 match, but the number of days it would be open were still being worked out.
But another spokesman disputed that. “At this moment, there are no plans for a pop-up.”
Asked to confirm that there won’t be one this summer, he said. “I can’t answer that question.”
Edens’ senior vice president of brand and culture Norma Morales Perez said, “We cannot confirm because that is not something that Edens is negotiating right now. Of course, we would welcome anything that does change. Right now we cannot confirm that the pop-up is happening.”
With or without a pop-up shop, Williams’ fans are expected to turn up for next month’s match. Like her fellow tennis pro sister Serena, Venus dove into fashion design years ago. She earned an associate degree in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2007 and joined forces with the now-defunct retailer Steve & Barry’s to launch her apparel label EleVen. She relaunched the label in 2012. Earlier this year, the elder Williams invested in the organic beauty and wellness company Asutra and she serves as chief brand officer.
Williams attended Zac Posen and other designers’ runways shows as her tennis star status rose. Last fall, she and Lizzo spoke on stage, during the #TeeUpChange campaign launch that was hosted by Dia&Co and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.