Fashion Week is changing. Once a press week featuring just one show every hour, the fashion event has turned into a multimillion dollar event in four of the globe’s most renowned cities. At New York Fashion Week alone, the number of shows and presentations now reaches close to 300.
What was once only touchable by the world’s most respected designers has now become a city-wide event that opens the doors for retailers of all kinds. Consumer behavior is changing the way designers and retailers alike show and sell their products. In New York, shows are migrating from Bryant Park to temporary pop-up shops or interactive parties.
Experiences are the driving factor.
The shoppable runway, off-runway shows and pop-up shops are some of the ways Fashion Week is morphing today. Those changes are presenting new opportunities, creating a global platform accessible to ecommerce retailers of all kinds.
How Fashion Week Has Transformed
Immediate gratification is the recurring theme for today’s consumers. We’ve seen it with Amazon Prime — and now Fashion Week has jumped on the bandwagon with the shoppable runway.
Fashion retailer NICOPANDA made a splash at its London Fashion Week debut, taking the “see-now-buy-now” idea a bit further. The retailer partnered with Amazon Prime to make their collection a “see-now-Prime-now” experience. Attendees could get their purchases in as little as two hours.
Also at LFW, Tommy Hilfiger has bridged the gap between the digital and the real-life experience with its #TommyNow interactive party, foregoing the Fashion Week runway altogether. Featuring supermodel Gigi Hadid, Tommy Hilfiger shared a livestream of the show, allowing users to purchase instantly or bookmark items to buy later. The brand also created an entire fashion-themed carnival Tommy Pier, complete with games, food and more — and appropriately replaced face painting with manicures. It’s turned the fashion show into a full-blown experience.
The concept of crafting brand experiences at Fashion Week has been adopted by other fashion retailers, too. Brands like Alexander Wang, Charlotte Tilbury and Yeezus have also capitalized on the trend. In turn, Fashion Week itself has become an entire experience, more than just watching models showcase designs down the runway.
With Tommy Pier and other off-site displays, there’s also been an emergence of pop-up shops during Fashion Week. We’ve seen this with Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma debut at NYFW — her pop-up shop in the form of a bus — and with Louis Vuitton’s first men’s pop-up shop at Milan Fashion Week.
Pop-up shops have opened the doors for ecommerce retailers to get in on the Fashion Week buzz. In 2016, ecommerce brand KENDALL + KYLIE debuted a new collection and the relaunch of their website at a pop-up during NYFW. The shop, hosted in collaboration with Samsung 837, was an immersive experience featuring technology and, unsurprisingly, social media — plus the option to shop the new collection.
These trends are making Fashion Week more accessible to all kinds of retailers. On top of that, NYFW partnered with Alibaba Group, one of the biggest ecommerce companies in China. This is making the America- and Europe-based events even more global, tapping into a huge new market. The doors only continue to open for ecommerce brands.
Fashion Week Pop-Up Shop Opportunities for Ecommerce Retailers
The opportunities for retailers of all kinds are inarguable. Each attendee drops around $650 during NYFW, creating $532 million in direct visitor spending — at least $7 million of which happens in retail shops. There are many reasons pop-up shops are an attractive option for retailers:
Targeted audience: Opening a pop-up shop for Fashion Week allows online retailers to target a specific demographic. Retailers in the apparel, accessory and beauty industries especially benefit from the exposure to more than 200,000 target customers.
Accessibility: The designers showing at Fashion Week have to be invited to participate. For the majority of fashion retailers that don’t make the cut, pop-up shops in the vicinity are a more feasible way to get in on the action.
Industry credibility: Developing authority in your industry is a great way to make your targeted customers trust your brand and expertise. Participating in one of the industry’s top events showcases ecommerce retailers’ involvement on a global stage.
Testing ground: Have a new idea for a product? Test it at your Fashion Week pop-up before going all-in on the investment. Treating the Fashion Week attendees as a focus group for your new concept can generate tons of insights.
Brand awareness: The opportunities span beyond simple sales. More than half of Fashion Week attendees are from the press, and 2011’s NYFW had press from more than 30 different countries. This means you can get your name out there in a big way.
Pop-up shops aren’t just viable, they’re becoming essential. Almost three-quarters of online shoppers find the in-store experience to be the most important channel — price point is no longer the main factor in purchase decisions. On top of that, customers who purchase both online and in-person have a 30% higher customer lifetime value than those who stick to one channel. Creating an in-person experience that complements the digital one can catapult sales and customer loyalty in both the short- and long-term.
How to Do It
When you’re determining how to open a pop-up shop anywhere, there are a few necessary steps:
- Set goals
- Determine your budget
- Find a space (we’ve put together ten spaces in New York to consider for NYFW)
- Set up your space and staff
- Promote your pop-up
When it comes to a Fashion Week pop-up, there are additional considerations. As pop-ups grow in popularity, competition grows as well. It becomes even more important to differentiate yourself and make your pop-up stand out in the crowded space. Offer something more incentivizing than simply an in-person shopping experience.
Refinery29’s now-famous 29Rooms is an “interactive funhouse of style, culture and technology,” partnering with brands and creatives to execute the experience. Water bottle retailer S’well had artist Yoon Hyup on-site to autograph products that featured his work. These are just a few examples of pop-up shops that are more than just shops, they’re brand experiences.
You can also turn your pop-up shop into a fulfillment center for customers who make online purchases before or during Fashion Week. 70% of shoppers shop online and pick up in-store. For customers who are attending shows, it can be a great convenience — and a chance for you to upsell or cross-promote other products.
For a more in-depth look at creating your Fashion Week pop-up, download our guide to take you through budgeting, marketing and ultimately making your pop-up a success.