Project Inspires Beauty in the Concept of Trade Shows While Providing a Business Platform for Leading Brands Retailers in Denim, Contemporary, Premium Street, Accessorie-Label Networks Bi-Annual Trade Show Review from Spring, 2008
Late Saturday night February 16, on the heels of successful trade shows at MAGIC and Project in Las Vegas scores of fashion industry insiders made their appearance at the coveted guerrilla pop-up store opening of Japanese high-end street brand Comme des Gar?ons in downtown Los Angeles. Located across the street from Label Networks office, our new neighbors greeted us kindly as we, along with many others, made our way behind a black gate into an alley located next to a cool local sneaker shop to get access to the hidden store. It’s so secret that the only way you can find the entrance is to look for the alley dumpster–the door’s on the other side.
People from Eno, WESC, Roxy, Creative Recreation, and others were onsite to catch a glimpse of this leading-edge Japanese brand designed by Rei Kawakubo, who’s famous for deconstructed tops, men’s suit jackets, and avant garde women’s clothing.
Comme des Garcons is also noted for being one of the first brands to launch the concept of pop-up retail in Japan whereby empty, hidden, usually small spaces are used for retail for a limited amount of time. In Label Networks’ presentation at MAGIC last week on Global Youth, Street Culture Fashion trends, we talked about the growing power of pop-up retail and how it’s changing the landscape shopping in general. In many ways, pop-up retail brings a new energy to the staid concept of shopping, creating a rave-type of mentality to check out the store as an event or happening as well as a shopping experience. Comme des Garcons was a leading brand in this trend, starting with their first pop-up store in Berlin in 2004. To date, pop-up is becoming a vital retail tool for even big brands now like Fila, Target, and even Hanes. (H&M has a pop-up of sorts in Second Life.)
In the arts, particularly graffiti and street art, the power of pop-up retail and online stores offering artwork at discounted prices is increasing. Santa’s Ghetto is a prime example of an on-going art pop-up that takes place for 3 days online ending at midnight on Christmas. Last year, the marketing and artwork actually took place in the West Bank with artists such as Banksy, Swoon, Faile, Blue, Sir Peter Blake, and others painting on the Wall and documenting the transformation then posting it online in their “Santa’s Ghetto” art pop-up store. It was a brilliant example of how pop-up can be a movement -in this case not only to affordable art, but corresponding apparel with a cause. But because the store (whether brick ‘n mortar or online) is ephemeral, gone in days, it makes for a different sort of shopping experience by being pro-active instead of reactive to normal traffic and shopping patterns.
Retail as Design/Event Space , Pop-up: A great example of this concept, other than Comme des Garcons recent version is New High (M)art in Chinatown, Los Angeles, whereby a small store is re-designed by new designers and artists featured every 6 weeks. The streetwear brand Mishka in Brooklyn is having success with their recent pop-up, which also features various DJ’s, which has extended into late spring.
For most pop-up stores, you basically have to be in-the-know first off to know where the pop-up is located and secondly, be invited to the opening or in some cases, simply to shop. According to Brett Westfall, who’s working with Kawakubo on the Comme des Garcons store on west 4th street in downtown Los Angeles, and who has his own collection called Unholy Matrimony, they liked the old buildings of the Old Bank District and post-apocalyptic decay of the area. (Which were the same reasons that attracted Label Networks to move headquarters from Culver City to downtown LA.) Their other pop-ups, located in places such as Warsaw, Poland, Reykjavik, Iceland, and Helsinki, Finland, are also located on the margins of the cities or in deconstructed areas. In many ways choosing the location for a pop-up tells the story of the brand and designs and so can be vital to the success of the coveted temporary store concept.
The designer of the new Comme des Garcons pop-up known as Tak, created white tiles covering the 25-foot walls, with stacked TV’s in the middle and metal benches. Beams cut through the cracked tiles, creating sort of a weird public bathroom feel to the area, which is also lined with silver tubing for clothes. Unfortunately, the collections were not available because they were stuck in customs, but we all celebrated anyway -especially those of us from across the street.
The pop-up Comme des Garcons store will be available for 1 year, featuring some discounted pieces, along with Kawakubo’s prot?g? Junya Watanabe (from Undercover and inspiration to local Project Runway winner Jeffrey Sebelia who also lives in the area). Also on hand will be some pieces from Brett’s Unholy Matrimony, as well as old-school Comme des Garcons pieces from previous collections in order to show the entire breadth of the brand’s evolution over time.
Overall, pop-up, also known as informal retail is many ways is becoming the new style of formal retail.
For more information from Label Networks’ presentation at MAGIC called “Global Youth, Street Culture Fashion,” email firstname.lastname@example.org; (323) 630-4000. Premium Global Subscribers 2008 receive access for free.