We’ll cut to the chase. For those not clued in (yet), pop-up stores refer to temporary spaces that are used to introduce a new product or limited edition items. Here’s another fun fact: Can you actually believe that the first pop-up well, popped up over two decades ago in Los Angeles?
So yes, pop-ups are a great option and have always been so, but this year in particular seems to be the tipping point. We’ve noticed pop-ups becoming bigger, more interactive and just more of an ‘event’ in general – we’re talking themed decor, immersive games and exclusive invites for that extra special touch.
As for the brands proper, the fab folks from Chanel, Dior, LV x Fragment, Paul Smith, Etude House, Laneige and many more have become pop-up participants this year, so to speak. Those are marquee names we're talking about, so you KNOW the times they are a changin'.
More intriguingly, each brand has decided to leverage their particular pop-up in delightfully unique ways: The Chanel Coco Cafe served up pretty palettes AND delish drinks inspired by its makeup collection; meanwhile, Louis Vuitton’s LV x Fragment pop-up was the go-to place for limited-edition collab pieces; and Etude House conjured up a carnival to celebrate its whimsical new Wonder Park collection.
Billion-dollar question: Why?
So what happened this year to make it so ‘poppable’? We reckon the evolving relationship between a consumer (that’ll be you) and a brand is a big reason for this shift (everything's customisable these days, it would seem). Then there’s our generation’s #FOMO mentality when it comes to social media and shopping; pop-ups appeal to our ‘kiasu’ mindset and our need to be down with the times (which is not always a bad thing!)
Social media: Chasing after that perfect Insta-shot
Social media has become an integral part of our lives, almost to a point of obsession; I mean, being an online influencer is a viable career option these days. To be fair, we have ourselves to ‘blame’ for this – most of us scroll through Instagram to scout for possible new places to explore.
Brands have caught up with our need for pretty pictures by conjuring up pop-ups that are unabashedly Insta-worthy. It’s a win-win for all: You get extra ‘likes’ and followers if you’re lucky; while the brand in question enjoys the ‘free’ publicity vis-a-vis social media buzz. Chanel’s Coco Cafe is an excellent example; during its tantalisingly brief tenure, just about everyone and their mother wanted a slice of that cake (quite literally, too).
Images: Louis Vuitton
Aesthetic appeal aside, shoppers these days expect the pop-up experience to stand out from what they can get from a conventional brick-and-mortar store.
Want proof? We’ve got proof. According to an online poll, 61 percent of shoppers list seasonal products as the main reason to visit a pop-up store. So yes, it is all about the exclusivity and the privilege of getting ‘first dibs’ on the latest swag.
This was certainly the case with the Dior pop-up back in March, which showcased the latest seasonal accessories for Dior die-hards to peruse ahead of the fashion pack. Another point of difference worth noting: This space was conceived of as being part of a global series, making Singapore one of a select itinerary of destinations to host the pop-up (how’s that for local pride?)
Images: Louis Vuitton
We’re also massive fans of the LV x Fragment pop-up, which stocked a treasure trove of limited-edition pieces that were not replenished once they went out of stock. This lent the shopping experience a thrilling sense of urgency, made all the more so because Singapore was the second city to showcase the collection after its debut in Tokyo (how’s that for local pride, part deux?)
What do we want to see more of in future pop-ups?
Here’s what we want – and it’s a long list, so take a deep breath, guys: We want pop-ups to be bigger and better, more fantastical and immersive, where we get to beautify our social media feed with pretty pictures and basically have a ton of fun.
Oh, and while we’re at it: Bring in Virtual Reality if possible to create bespoke experiences. And collabs make for great collectibles, so tie-ups between artists and designers will allow hitherto under-the-radar artists to reach a larger audience.
And finally...exclusive products. The more exclusive and harder to get, the more we will want to get our hands on it --- just like the LV x Fragment pieces. Or the limited-edition Lavender Sleeping Mask from Laneige which cannot be purchased anywhere else, save the pop-up store.
Right, then. Consider this piece an open letter to our favourite labels: We’ve thrown down the gauntlet and given you an idea of what we want. Over to you, please.