By Sujata Assomull
It is the season to indulge — for me at least, there is no need to wait till Christmas. The fashion weeks are underway. The new collections are in stores. And every weekend, till the end of the year, you can look forward to a new pop-up, trunk show and flash retail experiences — call it what you will. They are a recipe for disaster as far as I’m concerned — I always spend way too much! And this weekend is ‘Design One Dubai,’ up at Emirates Towers — I will be there all Saturday morning—indulging myself, of course.
The pop-up or flash retail concept was conceived in Los Angeles in the 1990s as “The one day ultimate hipster mall.” At the time, recession had begun to hit and so there were many labels that had to close their stores, which left two voids. Where to retail the fashion labels, and what happens to the empty spaces? The pop-up was the answer; rent the space for a few days and host a flash retail event. It was a hit. And now the pop-up is an entrenched part of the industry. Being a city of fashion, Dubai is a magnet for pop-ups. This is further propelled by its cosmopolitan nature — which means, designers from India, Pakistan, Philippines and Europe now have a ready-made audience here. A home-grown fashion label Reema Ameer (who holds her pop-up later this week), says, “Dubai’s fast-paced and transient nature also filters down to its fashion landscape. People want new, unique design and they want it now. By tomorrow, they are already on to the next big thing. Pop-ups allow boutique brands like mine to cater to consumers with insatiable appetites.”
But it is not just niche and global brands that look to the pop-up concept. Earlier this year, New York’s Suite 1521 brought Rodarte, Antonio Berardi and David Koma to the city. Three of the most sought after red carpet labels, they set up a “closed door pop-up-studio” at The Palm’s Fairmont Hotel and invited High Net-worth Individuals to order bespoke pieces from their latest collections.
But it is the pop-ups during this season I most look forward to. Be it Araaish that comes to Dubai from Mumbai, L’Edit where Faiza Ragoonwala puts together an edit of some of Pakistan’s designers or Reema Ameer’s standalone pop-up and Design One, of course. This is the flagship event of Sahachari Foundation Events, who for eight years have been putting together flash retail experiences in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Singapore. They bring some of India’s finest to Dubai. Monisha Jaising, Manish Malhotra, fashion jewellery line Isharya and Dubai’s Ayesha Depala are part of the show. And while all these designers have their own flagships in their cities of origin, I still prefer shopping at the pop-ups. “The space we have in a pop-up may be one tenth we do in our flagship, but we bring a focused collection. And we find everything must have a touch of India. It can’t just be ordinary, otherwise why would you come to a pop-up, you would go to Zara,” says Monisha Jaising. So as the festive season comes round, they do occasional wear-themed events. Before a holiday, it’s all about resort style clothing. Pop-ups are able to catch the pulse, and bring in a captive audience. Plus the added bonus is that pricing is normally more attractive than at brick and mortar stores. And since you can see the pieces and try them, I prefer pop-ups to on-line shopping. Sharmilla Khanna was the first to introduce the idea of pop-ups to India with Araaish a decade ago, an exhibition which is now very much a part of Dubai’s fashion calendar. She explains, “Since you buy directly from a designer, you don’t have to incur the store mark-ups.” And who doesn’t like a good bargain? So go ahead and indulge, it is the season after all.
Pop-up Shopping 101
- Go with a budget in mind and stick to it
- Don’t think just because it is a pop-up you have to make your mind up on the spot. If you are not sure, ask the designer for a card and sleep on it. And if you do miss-out, remember it’s just a piece of clothing
- Always try-on. The size on the label means nothing, especially with young and more experimental designers
- Do your home-work. Some designers use pop-ups as a way to get rid of old stock. So if you feel something looks a little out of season, it might be
- 5.Pop-up shopping can be a fun day out. Why not take a friend or your mom or sister? As it is about impulse shopping, two heads are always better than one
Sujata is KT’s fashion editor. It is her business to stay on trend