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Boxfresh founder to open ‘pop-up mall’ for brands

Boxfresh founder Roger Wade is to open the world’s first “pop-up mall” opposite London’s Shoreditch House private members club.

The mall, dubbed Boxpark, will be built out of 60 shipping containers and dedicated to brands rather than high street chains. It will open in August.

Wade has not signed any tenants yet, but said the brand mix would give the mall the feel of streetwear trade show Bread & Butter.

Brands will be able to join on an invitation-only basis, but Wade is eyeing the likes of streetwear brands Carhartt and Stussy, premium casualwear brands Fred Perry, APC, Nigel Cabourn and Heritage Research, and young fashion brands Nudie Jeans and Religion.

“This is a backlash against [the high street],” he told Drapers. “There isn’t a proper home for brands any more, and what we’ve seen over the past 10 years is their gradual decline. I’m thinking of this almost like concessions in a department store - we could lease the space to a few big retailers, but we are primarily here to show that small is beautiful.”

He added: “I had a fascination with [shipping] containers when I worked at [young fashion brand] Boxfresh, and I always wanted to create a Boxshop from one.

“This is an absolute first. It’s nice to feel alive again, to be doing something new and revolutionary.”

Wade said Shoreditch was his “first choice” location in Europe, but that he hoped to replicate the Shoreditch Boxpark in other cities in the UK and worldwide. “I want to have a Boxpark in every major city in Britain,” he said.

The Shoreditch Boxpark will open for a minimum of five years, and tenants will be able to operate stores for all or part of that time. Most units will be 300 sq ft, but a few brands will be allowed to knock multiple units into one for larger retail spaces.

About a third of the 60 units will be dedicated to cafes, galleries and fashion showrooms, and the remaining two thirds will be devoted to retail - predominantly fashion retail, Wade said.

Wade is launching the scheme in conjunction with retail developers Hammerson and Ballymore, and said rents would be “significantly reduced” compared with average market rents in the area. “This is a low-risk option [for brands],” he said. Potential tenants should make enquiries via www.boxpark.co.uk.

Wade founded young fashion brand Boxfresh in 1989 and sold the business to brand house Pentland Brands in 2005. Boxfresh does not have any association with Boxpark.

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