How to launch a fashion pop-up

26 Oct 2022

You’ve deftly designed your fashion collection – and carefully cultivated a following online – so, what’s the next step for any budding brand? IRL pop-ups.

Emerging creatives in cities across the globe are searching for their perfect fashion space to rent — both short and long-term rentals. Here we speak to three fashion founders in our network for insider inspiration. For tips from Clio Peppiatt of womenswear label, Clio Peppiatt, Jason Kirk of eyewear manufacturer, Kirk and Kirk, and John Bright of menswear brand, The Good Neighbour.

Why pop up?

A pop-up is purposefully short-term and is usually launched to achieve a specific goal. For example, a food and beverage brand might use a pop-up to test out its new menu on the high street; a fashion house like Gucci, or independent fashionista like Nicholas Daley, might bring out a new collection to create a buzz by launching a pop-up in a shopping centre that’s renowned for its sartorial offerings.

How to launch a fashion pop-up

“Opening my first pop-up felt quite daunting and I had lots of doubts, but as soon as it started the reaction was positive,” explains John. “I had tried independent markets first and had good sales, so a pop-up felt like the next step in growing my brand.”

Clio agrees and states that her brand’s pop-up has been great for sales: “50% of people coming in, know we’re here, and are coming in for that reason. 50% of people don’t know that we’re here and have wandered past and come in to buy something. We’ve seen a big spike in online sales for the UK, and the only thing we can chase it down to is being here.”

“The Kirk & Kirk pop-up in Shoreditch was an opportunity for us to listen to our customers first-hand,” says Jason, who goes on to divulge that as a brand that usually wholesales, they had previously been reliant on intermediaries to communicate the brand story and report back the consumer feedback — creating an IRL space cut out the middle-man. “We welcomed existing followers that were delighted to have a place to immerse themselves in the Kirk & Kirk environment, as well as people that discovered us for the first time and we learnt how expressing our brand ‘why’ directly to the public is an incredibly valuable exercise.”

Choose the right location

“Not all spaces or areas work,” states John. It’s best to be selective with your areas and make sure they mirror your target customer. Do your research, and search for the neighbourhood where your audience likes to spend their time. “Spend some time in the area before booking, look at the local shops, brands or cafes — do they feel like a good fit with your brand?”

John also recommends that you check how many people walk by the space you’re interested in: ask yourself, is it busy enough? “It’s important to do your research, but also go with your gut instinct about the space/area as you know your brand better than anyone.”

How to launch a fashion pop-up

Be prepared for challenges

Running a business isn’t easy, and taking your first steps into physical retail can be challenging too. Launching an iconic fashion pop-up will mean mucking in with everything from the store fit-out to making sure the finances are in order, and it’s a challenge our founders are advising newcomers to be aware of.

When speaking to Clio Peppiatt about the challenges of launching a first-time pop-up, time management and human resources were an issue. “For such a small team, and initially just myself, splitting various jobs across the company over one person was tough. As a founder, you’ll need to be prepared to do a lot of everything.”

“I’m really proud of the decisions we’ve made where we’ve stuck to the core characteristics of the brand,” explains Clio. “Sustainability is really important to us, and really supporting artisanal groups is very important to the brand. Sometimes that can limit our growth, but bigger is not always better, because then we lose the quality.”

How to launch a fashion pop-up

Advice to founders

“Always go back to the why, and the reason why you started your brand,” states Clio. “Customers can always sense if there’s something phoney, and not completely genuine about what you’re doing. If you can tie it into things that you believe in on a bit of a deeper level, for me, that’s supporting craftsmen — craftsmen that rely on these skills in an affable and fair way. If you can tie in those deeper motives, it will really resonate with your customers.”

When it comes to getting direct feedback from customers IRL, and providing an immersive space for customers to look, feel, and learn about the why behind the brand, Jason says that emerging creatives need to “express the unique values of your brand with confidence in every aspect of your pop-up.”

Further inspiration

Still on the fence? Head to our success stories to hear more inspiring insider insights into fashion pop-ups IRL. Brands such as Gucci, Supreme, Patagonia, Nicholas Daley and Sowvital have all utilised our spaces to bring their brands to life on the street. What would yours look like?

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