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Produce Your Own Pop Up Shops and Fashion Shows

Bring it to the People Fashion Designer Pop-UpLast weekend, I attended Bring it to the People, an independent designer pop-up in Soho. It was a two day event, featuring 17 New York based designers, displaying work in apparel, accessories, and jewelry. The event, it should be noted, was conceived and executed  wholly by the designers themselves.

One jewelry designer I met, Graciela Fuentes of  Tirana Jewelry, shared with me the motivation behind the event.  Simply put, it makes more sense for the designers to join forces, share responsibility, and reap all the profits themselves, than to work with a boutique or other retail space that, while they may have a following, couldn’t possibly sell your brand as effectively as you could.

According to some of the designers involved, the event was a success with great foot traffic and a decent amount of direct-to-consumer sales; the two biggest goals, I would imagine.

In addition to attending this pop up shop, I recently received an email from the founder of a brand called Silvania, a Portland-based ethical apparel label. She, along with 4 other designers and the very well known brand Patagonia, have teamed up to produce an ethical fashion show on July 5th in Portland, Oregon called Sundown. This too was an initiative that came to fruition due to the drive and excitement of a core group of designers with a real passion for their work, their brand’s missions, and confidence in their own abilities.

I have to say, as someone who has helped produce several independent fashion shows in various areas of the country over the years,  when something like this comes together and is successfully executed, it’s way more exciting to both the designers and the consumers, than say a “been there, done that” department store pop-up.

Are you inspired yet?  Good, that’s what I was hoping for.

So here are some tips to consider early on:

  • Focus on something other than just making money.  remember that brand recognition and building a true connection with current and potential customers are things that should be used to measure success, just as much as making the sale.
  • Create a story around your event.  Give people a real reason to want to come other than buying your amazing products.  I’m not talking about goodie bags or raffles. I’m talking about getting across who you are and what your brand stands for, and why  you’re creating this wonderful event,  in all your marketing efforts. Make people want to support you and the event’s initiative.  At it’s most basic, your event’s story is a way for people to discover and support a passionate and talented group of individuals who believe in bringing together the community around a common interest in independent art.  Creating a story beyond that, is up to you and your collaborators.
  • Building on that, be particular about what brands you associate yourself with.  Remember that this event is a marketing initiative as much as anything else you do and you want to make sure that you bring together a group of designers with a common interest, goal, and/or mission.  In the case of the Sundown Fashion Show, all involved labels are based around ethical business development, in some way or another.

These are just a few things to think about when deciding to create an event around your brand.  It may seem a bit overwhelming but remember that when it comes to your work, you have passion, exuberance, and a drive to succeed that can all be just as easily applied to putting together an initiative like this.

What are you waiting for?

Has anyone worked on creating a pop-up or fashion show sans the support of a major retail outlet?  We’d love to hear about your experiences; both the successful and the “not-so-successful”.

About Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder and CEO of StartUp FASHION and has been critical in the launch of hundreds of independent designers’ successful fashion businesses. Prior to StartUp FASHION, she founded a private label accessories brand, led operations for an international textile distributor, and assisted with the raw materials sourcing for labels including Jill Stuart, Prabal Gurung, and Isaac Mizrahi.

9 comments

  1. This is so timely! I’m actually in the very beginning stages of planning my first fashion show for next spring. Super excited about it, and I know I have my work cut out for me – these are great tips! Thank you for being such an amazing resource.

  2. As always, your posts are a wealth of information and this has given me the idea to plan a similar event with other emerging in my city of Toronto, Canada.

  3. Very informative, thank you! I am actually launching my own line of handbags through my own pop up shop, two weeks from now in Toronto, Canada.
    I hope to have another with other emerging designers, next time around!

  4. Hi Nicole!

    I know this article is old but I wanted to say thank you for it. I just launched my brand in January and am thinking of a form of pop up shop. Do you think it’s better to do it in New York City rather than the west coast? I’m brainstorming!

    • Hi Ann,

      So glad you found the article helpful. I think you should do your first pop up in the place where you have the strongest network and brand recognition. You’ll find you’ll need the help f word of mouth marketing from your biggest supporters. Then, if you decide to do it regularly, consider popping up in a new location next time. :)

      Hope that helps!

  5. Hi,

    This is very informative!! I am an emerging designer in the NYC area and I would to do 4 Pop Up Fashion Shows after I make my NYC Fashion Week Debut in September.

    I have a lot of family in these particular areas and would like to have them consecutivley every weekend. How much planning would I need to promote and execute?? 1 day- 1 week?
    What kind of material should have for marketing? A Banner? Red Carpet Backdrop?
    Should I have it outdoors or in a Small Venue?
    What is the be the best way to connect with local designers if that is not my home town?

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