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Drapers Property Report: Creating a compelling pop-up experience

Localisation and personalisation are the new buzzwords in experiential retail. Drapers examines the next generation of transient stores that leave a lasting memory.

Once seen as the preserve of experiential retailers wanting to make a strong impression or those aiming to maximise low budgets, pop-ups have firmly made their way into the mainstream. But it is no longer enough to just turn up and sell: temporary stores must offer a distinctive experience to distinguish themselves from their permanent neighbours and online competitors.

The best pop-ups offer individual service, personalised and exclusive product or something entirely new for the location to attract today’s time-poor yet knowledge-rich consumers who can access anything they want at the touch of a screen. Even shopping centre developers such as Hammerson and Intu are now receptive to the lure of attractive pop-up retailers to boost overall experience, although the ambition remains to transition pop-ups into full lets.

Short-let specialists such as Appear Here offer an ever-growing pool of available properties to suit all shapes and sizes, while more traditional property firms like Sloane Stanley Estate have transformed some stores into a continually revolving space for new retailers and concepts. Here are some of the best recent pop-ups making a stir for all the right reasons.

adidas knit for you 1

The bespoke experience: Adidas Knit for You

Bikini Berlin shopping mall, Germany

Adidas launched a three month-long 4,200 sq ft pop-up at the Bikini Berlin shopping mall in Germany between December and February 2017, where shoppers could design a personalised, fully fashioned Knit for You merino wool jumper that was knitted in the store within hours priced at €200 (£170). A body scanner takes the measurements while the consumer can customise the design with the help of an Adidas technician, choosing between a camouflage pattern based on a digital sound recording, or a stock pattern with a choice of colour and scale.

The design is then sent digitally to the workshop on site, where the pattern is knitted by machine and finished by hand, resulting in a design and fit tailored to their individual needs.

The store was part of a wider research project supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in collaboration with several German universities that aimed to improve understanding of how flexibility in production can be used to offer meaningful digital experiences and customisation opportunities within stores.

zelle studio

The debut: Zelle Studio

Great Windmill Street, Soho, London

Minimalist womenswear brand Zelle Studio made its bricks-and-mortar debut in February with a 337 sq ft pop-up store in Soho, just behind Piccadilly Circus in a former menswear store leased by Appear Here, close to the entrance of Ham Yard.

Run by brother and sister Albert and Yvonne Lin, Zelle Studio was launched in London in 2015 with the aim of fostering a more mindful attitude to fashion by developing collections that last in a modern wardrobe.

The duo decided to open their first store after success at London Fashion Week Festival last September. Yvonne explains they thought about every detail from the lighting and tables to the reusable eco-shopping bags used to fully reflect the brand’s philosophy.

“We want our customers to walk into our store experiencing the brand as if the online shop came to life,” she says. “For those customers that are still yet to find out more about us, we want them to feel this is a cosy space to discover the ethos and the quality of our brand.”

She adds that, as a result of positive feedback, Zelle is hoping to extend its stay at the current location beyond the original date of the end of April, and is now actively looking for a permanent location.

link street 2

The permanent revolving showcase: Link Street


Property developer Hammerson is using the pop-up format to add interest to its existing offer in the area that connects Bullring and Grand Central in Birmingham, attracting brands you would not normally see in a shopping centre and giving shoppers something different each time they visit.

Currently Religion Clothing has its first store outside of London at the site, as does east London breakfast restaurant Cereal Killer Café. Footwear brand Irregular Choice, bamboo clothing specialist Positive Outlook and menswear label Pretty Green have all taken space in the last year on short-term leases, while accessories label Abbott Lyon opened in Link Street for a week – the minimum term available.

“Pop-up concepts are a great way of introducing innovative and exciting new concepts to our customers, and we are pleased to be able to provide the opportunity for these brands to showcase their ideas,” says Sarah Mander, assistant director at retail leasing at Hammerson. “It all enhances Bullring’s offer, keeping it relevant and vibrant for shoppers.”

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