Despite Covid, luxury brands are launching their best pop-up stores yet

Dylan Brown
by Dylan Brown

Luxury fashion houses aren’t letting Covid-19 slow them down, with brands including Dior, Loewe, Alighieri, Burberry and Fendi creating pop-up stores that meet customers in entirely new ways.

Before the pandemic took place, many retailers were ramping up their efforts to invest in a portfolio of innovative store formats that engaged customers in new ways, and pop-up stores were taking center stage.

But at a time where footfall figures are still remarkably low, and with thousands of stores closing across the globe, one would be forgiven for assuming that pop-up stores won’t be making a comeback anytime soon.

Find out how to create powerful store experiences using appointment scheduling software

However, brands that rely on providing a high-touch service, such as the luxury retail market, are desperate to meet their consumers wherever they are, giving an all new life to the pop-up store format.

Luxury brands are moving their pop-ups to local neighborhoods

In the past, the most popular and high-performing pop-up stores have been located in fast-paced downtown locations, from shopping districts to train stations – and appearing in the glitzy neighborhood’s like London’s Mayfair or Bond Street, or New York’s Soho or Chelsea has been go-to gold for luxury retailers.

Most pop-ups are located in inner city locations, like this Louis Vuitton pop-up in New York. Image: Forbes

Covid-19 has stopped consumers from travelling into these downtown destinations, and instead of waiting for their customers to return, many luxury brands have taken the initiative by meeting their customers in their local neighorhoods or holiday destinations.

Melissa Gonzalez, founder and chief executive of experiential retail strategy firm, The Lionesque Group, told Vogue Business that a brand she works with saw one-tenth of its usual traffic last summer in New York, but made a whole month’s revenue in the first week at the Hamptons.

“For most brands, their retail strategy has, historically, been to hit the big cities first. But places in New York, like Times Square and Midtown, rely so much on commuters and tourists, that’s going to be an uphill battle.”

In fact, now might be an opportune time for retailers to invest in pop-up stores, with landlords’ desperate for new leases and many willing to adapt. Appear Here, an online marketplace for retail space covering the US, the UK and France, saw an increase of 125% in available retail space listed between June to August.

Dior and Loewe follow their customers across the Mediterranean

With many of its customers restricted to the Mediterranean this summer, Dior decided to launch several “Dioriviera” pop-ups across popular summer hot spots.

“Pop-ups complete our retail strategy. We aim to go where the client goes. [It] allows us to have a presence in the locations to which our clients travel and to be able to offer what they might need while on vacation,” a Dior spokesperson says.

Dior opened its Dioriviera 2020 capsule in Capri. Image: Vogue

The Dioriviera 2020 capsule featured designs from Maria Grazia Chiuri. Image: Vogue

Luxury leather goods fashion house, Loewe, has set up pop-ups in a number of Mediterranean locations, including St Tropez and Ibiza. These pop-ups are decorated with colorful, handcrafted crochet lanterns and towers that are designed to reflect the brand’s prints.

The Loewe pop-up store in St Tropez.

Todd Snyder opens pop-ups in the Hamptons

Luxury New York based menswear designer Todd Snyder, has been opening pop-ups for a number of years now, and this summer it decided to open temporary stores in the Hamptons, where it was able to not only serve its existing customer base, but reach an entirely new one, with 50% of customers being first-timers.

“Pop-ups are a great way to test the market and see what kind of return you get,” Mr Snyder told Vogue Business.

A Todd Snyder pop-up store in the East Hamptons.

Here’s how to create engaging customer experiences that support social distancing

Alighieri brings Italy to London

Realizing that many of its customers won’t be travelling abroad this summer, luxury brand Alighieri decided to create a Florence-inspired pop-up in London that served Italian meals alongside its jewellery collection.

With the notion of a perfect Italian holiday in mind, the brand’s founder Rosh Mahtani, wanted to create a space where people could “see friends they hadn’t seen for some time, look at jewellery, have some food and decide over dinner what they wanted to buy,” she told Vogue Business.

Alighieri’s Old Town pop-up store in London. Image source: Harper’s Bazaar

Dinner bookings sold out within the first few days of going live, leading to the booking of separate shopping appointments.

“That for us has really been a measure of success,” she says. “Conversion rate and spend have been strong.”

Burberry delights customers with AR-powered animal kingdom pop-up stores

In June, Burberry created a number of animal kingdom-themed pop-up stores in China that featured lime-green statues of giraffes, monkeys, gorillas and birds to reflect its animal kingdom inspired summer collection.

The pop-up stores were equipped with augmented reality (AR) technology that allowed customers to scan items in the store and moving images of flying birds showed up on their smartphone screens.

Burberry’s animal kingdom themed AR pop up stores appeared in Shanghai, Shenyang and Nanjing.

Fendi showcases Mr Doodle partnership in Beijing pop-up

Fendi launched a pop-up store in Beijing to celebrate its newest partnership with British artist Mr. Doodle. The pop-up came just in time for what is known as the “Chinese Valentine’s Day”, or the Qixi Festival.

Along with these pop-up stores, Fendi also set up mini-cafés with tables and plates adorned with Mr Doodle’s graffiti.

Pop-up partnerships help luxury retailers meet new customers

A number of other retailers are bringing their pop-ups to well-known department stores. For instance, Dior has launched a pop-up space in Harrods to showcase its Autumn/Winter collection, while Prada has launched a pop-up for its Re-Nylon range in Selfridges.

And the UK charity, Oxfam, will be proving the case for second-hand fashion in a pop up store at Selfridges to coincide with the company’s #SecondhandSeptember campaign.

Lancôme creates virtual pop-ups

Now is the time where many retail brands are turning to online events and digital hubs in order to keep consumers engaged.

Beauty and skincare brand, Lancôme, has debuted its first-ever virtual pop-up store for Singapore shoppers, which is designed to encourage customers to explore their strengths as part of its #LiveYourStrength campaign in the promotion of its 11-year-old Lancôme Advanced Genifique serum.

Lancôme’s pop-up store is exclusively for Singapore customers.

Luxury brands are turning to time-slot appointments and virtual queues

To help encourage social distancing and keep customers safe, many luxury retailers are turning to virtual queuing software and appointment booking software – and they’re creating powerful and engaging customer experiences as a result.

This software enables luxury retailers to create the same exclusive, tailored level of service customers expect when visiting a store, while supporting social distancing. Customers can book time-slots to enter stores ahead of time, or book appointments with in-house stylists or make-up artists. And if they visit your pop-up store and it has reached capacity, they can join a virtual queue where they will receive a notification when it is time to return to store.

Luxury department store Brown Thomas allows customers to book appointments with in-store experts.

Luxury department store retailers Brown Thomas and Selfridges use Qudini’s software to allow customers to queue remotely instead of waiting outside of stores, and they allow customers to booking appointments with in-store style experts.

Learn how Brown Thomas/Selfridges benefitted from a queuing and booking system 

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