Fashion gets ready to pop up

A jewellery pop-up at a yoga studio in the city PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT  

Picture this. You’re walking down a bustling street, navigating the crowds and hurrying to get to your destination, when you chance upon a container — one selling silk scarves by Hermes. The bright orange set-up proudly proclaims, The Hermes Silk Bar. Fascinating? It was for shoppers at Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, when the fashion giant decided to set up a pop-up shop.

Kate Spade too managed to grab eyeballs with its igloo-shaped pop-up that handed out hot chocolate to shoppers in NYC’s Bryant Park. Closer home, it was Mumbai’s Carter Road that let shoppers delight in the joys of retail therapy by the waterfront at a pop-up by Unees Bees.

These days, it isn’t uncommon for one’s FB feed or WhatsApp to flash invites to a pop-up store almost every other week. An important retail tool for designers, pop-ups are everywhere. With highly curated and unique products, they are the perfect way for shoppers to discover something new. And, with higher footfalls and an assorted crowd of shoppers, they seem the perfect alternative to traditional boutique spaces. And, for small-time designers, who largely rely on e-commerce sites, pop-ups are the perfect way to save on hefty store rentals and yet be able to create a physical platform for their products.

Loosely based on the mela concept that has existed for ages now, pop-ups are highly curated events with specific themes and, often, at quirky venues. “There are really two ways to look at it — how it is done and how it is executed. Opportunities for pop-ups have always existed; from kitty parties to housing society stalls. This is a window to discover something new. While the concept isn’t entirely new, it has developed and gone beyond the mela concept. You see more new and creative work now, and pop-ups help showcase these,” says Vishakha Singh, founder of Red Polka, an e-commerce fashion portal, which regularly conducts fashion and lifestyle pop-ups.

For Pragya Batra, co-founder of Quirk Smith, a Bangalore-based brand that largely retails through Facebook and Instagram, pop-ups have been a great way to let customers touch and feel the product. “We’ve been participating in a lot of pop-ups over the last year, and they are a great way to reach out to the right audience; those who like to explore and purchase. Conversion rates at pop-ups are typically high and such events give us a chance to interact with clients.”

The fact that pop-ups tie up with only a handful of designers, with carefully curated products being displayed, unlike traditional lifestyle shows, make them a better shopping experience. “Pop-ups are more curated and tap current trends. They offer a more personalised shopping experience and we usually have a theme running through a pop-up,” says Nandini Varshnei, founder of The Armoire, a luxe pop-up brand.

Some take the experience a notch further and throw in added experiences for clients. Take, for instance, MaalGaadi in Besant Nagar. The concept store has so far organised three pop-up shows and has another in the pipeline for the upcoming festive season. “Our pop-ups are personalised and interactive. At one, we had a designer who brought a karigar over for instant customisation of an outfit. At another, we had a DIY station; one more had a coffee station, with freshly brewed coffee being served to shoppers, and someone who created coffee art,” says Shahin Ansari, founder and partner at MaalGaadi.

The world over, pop-ups are experimenting with quirky themes and designs, and, in some cases, even locations. For instance, Hublot had a ‘rain of gems’ theme at its pop-up in Singapore’s Paragon Shopping Mall. Arnsdorf, a fashion brand in Melbourne, opened a three-day store that was decorated with 154 pairs of pantyhose.

Despite the popularity of the concept in India though, few pop-ups here go beyond the usual set-up to experiment. According to Nandini, “The concept itself is just catching on, and so it isn’t as evolved here as yet. That said, pop-ups in Mumbai and Delhi are definitely getting quirky. It’s just a matter of time I suppose.”

The focus at the moment, according to Vishakha, is on the products. “Right now, we’re keeping distractions down and focussing on the products we showcase. The focus is on pure fashion for now,” she says.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 12:25:25 AM |

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