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The POP-UP STORE is one of the marketing models achieving the most attainment globally

The capacity to still feel wonder is essential to the creative process.

Donald Woods Winnicott

Creativity is essential in marketing, promoting open-mindedness and generating original and intriguing appeal for the masses. The POP-UP STORE is one of the marketing models achieving the most attainment globally.

The Pioneer of this trend was Patrick Courrielche - an American entrepreneur, writer and political expert - who created the event "The Retail Expo" in Los Angeles in 1997. The event, defined as the "hipster mall par excellence", immediately attracted the attention of many brands - Levi’s, Motorola, and others - who understood its enormous potential and began collaborating with Courrielche to market their products to a young audience. However, the birth of POP-UP Stores could go back much further. For example, the Christmas markets that started in Vienna in 1298 or the seasonal farmers' kiosks.


Know festival [Photo via]
Photo: Provided by Charm on the Farm

The POP-UP STORE - from pop-up “come out” and store “shop” - represents a temporary shop with a short duration, often created for the launch of a new product, to celebrate a particular moment of the year, a limited-edition product, or simply to attract customers.

Through the inexhaustible imagination of the designers and an excellent marketing job, they have become usual events scattered around the city or in shopping centers, giving customers a new experience.


Courtesy of Hermes /
For Adidas photo 

The first POP-UP Store, similar to an actual store, was proposed by the Japanese fashion brand Comme des Garçons in 2004. The “guerrilla store” was inaugurated in Berlin, then continued in Hong Kong, Singapore, Los Angeles and other places. Intriguing, avant-garde and creative, this new store concept was immediately adopted by other brands such as Dior, Prada, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. Ephemeral and exclusive, tiny and transitory, the POP-UP Store has an entirely different structure from the Store. Further, not only in the architectural image - with limited and concentrated spaces - but also in terms of creativity.


For Levis photo Courtesy of Red Valentino

I remember the first time I visited a POP-UP Store. It was in 2018 in Roppongi Hills in Oyane Plaza. Going up the escalators, I caught a glimpse of a silver train car. It was the “Prada Silver Line” and I was enchanted, almost afraid to enter. The train, set up with red upholstery in contrast with the external silver body, evoked the retro period of the American 1930s and, indirectly, the history of the dawn of the Italian brand. Initially, the shop specialized in leather bags and travel accessories. This exciting and impactful setting created the experience of a journey in an aristocratic wagon stopped at a train station. The floor was adorned with a black and white checkered floor, a recognizable sign of the Prada brand.


Courtesy of Prada


Courtesy of Prada


Courtesy of Prada


Courtesy of Prada

Over the past few years, POP-UP Stores have evolved more and more. The designers' creativity has skyrocketed, creating great scenarios. One was the Dior Riviera POP-UP, launched in August 2022 on the top floor of Ginza Six in Ginza. Once on the roof garden, a new world was revealed: a safari zoo. Walls, pillars, and ceilings covered with white images of forest plants and animals surrounded a small circular wooden shop, where the new summer 2022 collection was displayed. In front, another circular space housed chairs and umbrellas - decorated with the fabrics of the Riviera collection - creating an area of ​​comfort and relaxation for the visitors. The whole environment, decorated with statues of giraffes, elephants and lions, made the experience of the safari zoo even more real.


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava

Another fascinating POP-UP Store in Roppongi Hills in Oyane Plaza saw Dior again as a protagonist. In May 2022, the brand gave visitors a dip in the historical collection of Dior “LADY DIOR” (named in this way in honor of Princess Diana). The “DIOR LADY ART” POP-UP consisted of two areas. The first was an excellent exhibition created with curved white displays. Inside, artists from all over the world have proposed several reinterpretations of the bag. The second area, more playful, hosted the “ABCDior” animation. Here it was possible to customize “Lady D-Light virtually.” The next room, dark and very suggestive, was bordered by white walls with backlit “LADY DIOR” bags. A particular detail caught my attention, the glass roof adorned with framed “LADY DIOR”.


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava

POP-UPs are often hosted in department stores, such as ISETAN in Shinjuku, where luxury brands give a little taste of their inventiveness. Some examples are Tory Burch's new sports collection in 2017, with a giant tennis ball in the foreground. The ball seemed annoyed at being repeatedly tossed around the field. Simple and elegant arches for Fendi's new 2020 summer collection, which evoked the new facade of the shops (inspired by the “Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana” in Rome). In 2012 Dolce & Gabbana used the Sicilian illuminations, designed by the Italian set designer Lucio Mariano, to bring a pinch of the southern Italian tradition (inspired by the decorative lights of the patronal feasts).


Courtesy of Tory Burch
Courtesy of Fendi
Courtesy of Mariano Light

Last summer, two POP-UPs of Italian brands took turns at the ISETAN store: Pomellato and Prada. Their design had a contrasting impact on me.

Pomellato's POP-UP – “DISCOVER YOUR COLORS” - was very disappointing from a design point. It was just a simple transposition of the shop. A few creative elements and a weak image, no explosion of colors (as suggested by the title of the POP-UP), and weakly emotional.

Conversely, “THE GALLERIA” by Prada - with its bright green walls that contrasted the iconic black and white checkered floor, simple and elegant, bright and summery (considering the season) - was significantly impacted.


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava

Another example of a not-very-creative POP-UP Store was that of the British brand Graff. The setting was sparse and unattractive in Roppongi Hills: white walls, shop windows arranged seemingly without logic, and the sparsely decorated Touch & Try area. The only creative note was the garden with small butterflies and moving flowers. Minimalism is always welcome, but it should be well thought out.


Photo Valentina Cannava


Photo Valentina Cannava

What makes a POP-UP Store exciting and intriguing so that you want to visit it and decide to buy something? One of the main features is undoubtedly amazement! Going out of the box, creating something alternative to the classic shop, involving colors, decorations, effects, and graphics different from those usually adopted but with easily recognizable brand details. Creating an experience is not easy. It needs creativity, but also research, study, and market surveys. Together with the knowledge of the most recent trends and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies, those are the ingredients to create a successful POP-UP Store.