Style In The City
Style in city

New-age retail pops up in Dubai

Sujata Assomull
Filed on September 26, 2015 | Last updated on September 29, 2015 at 05.50 pm
New-age retail pops up in Dubai

The Orange Box: The Hermes Pop-Up

The Orange Box: The Hermes Pop-Up

Gucci’s new window installation at Dover Street Market, London. The Gucci pop-ups at all four Dover Street locations in Tokyo, New York, London and Beijing speak of a new, more cool era of the brand.
(Supplied photo)

Take advantage of a smorgasbord of styles that multi-designer pop-ups offer this season, but keep a watch on your wallet


The Orange Box: The Hermes Pop-Up 

When it comes to luxury fashion, there is no question that Hermes is on top of the pyramid. And though they retail at four locations in Dubai, and even have a flagship in a prime location at Dubai Mall's Fashion Avenue that is not enough it seems. Right in the centre of the Fashion Atrium at Dubai Mall, there is a Hermes pop-up. From their bags (and there some bags you normally need to be on waiting list to acquire) to their sumptuous silk scarves, to irresistible tableware, this pop-up gives you a look into the world of Hermes. It seems this really is the season of pop ups!


We know Dubai is a shoppers' paradise. As you fly into the city, you are immediately welcomed with "Fly Buy Dubai" posters at the airport. This is, after all, home to the largest shopping mall, The Dubai Mall; the Middle East has the largest per capita spending at $2,000 and spends a whopping $7.7 billion on luxury. "Speak English, Dress Italian, Drive German, Spend Arab" has become a saying here, and on social media. It seems living the good life is what the Emirates has become synonymous with.

Dubai is a magnet for fashion. Every international brand you have heard of (and many you have not) have opened large flagships in the region. Those who find the overheads too high, or still want to test the waters have found another retail format works for them better. A more temporary and season-focused format - the pop-up. Every Saturday, there are at least three or four exhibitions with designers from India, Pakistan and other parts of the East looking to cash in on Dubai's love for shopping. And it is not only Asian labels; international luxury accessory brands, such as Judith Leiber and Ethan K, also host annual pop-ups in the city. This year, the pop-up season has already started, as there are many labels that want to lure the region's "spendistas".

The pop-up or flash retail concept was conceived in Los Angeles in the 1990s as "the one-day ultimate hipster mall". Of course, the idea of having exhibitions and trunk show is not new. Locations can vary from an existing mall, market and store to a hotel lobby or ballroom. The word "pop-up" has a cooler, more on-trend and more immediate feel. Even well-known fashion brands believe in the "pop-up". Gucci, the Italian luxury brand founded in 1921, recently felt their brand was at a plateau, and so at the start of this year announced that Alessandro Michele would be the new creative director, taking over from Frida Giannini who had reigned over the brand for nearly a decade.

With Alessandro's first collections as creative head now in stores, Gucci has decided to collaborate with Dover Street Market. Dover Street Market is known for its daring and creative edits. The Gucci pop-ups at all four Dover Street locations in Tokyo, New York, London and Beijing speak of a new, more "cool" era of Gucci.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop website has become synonymous with living the new age lifestyle and now it seems that the actor is ready to take this website commercial. In preparation for this, she has been Goop pop-ups in various cities across America; curated by the actor, these include fashion, health and home products. And it seems these pop-ups are a way of testing the waters before she opens more permanent locations (and I am sure Dubai is on her radar).

The curated, multi-designer pop-ups seem more popular in this region, be it Mana Shetty's Araaish which took place two weeks ago, which brought Indian festive fashion to the city or the ongoing pop-ups that take place at Jumeriah's Comptoir 102, where London-based fine jeweller Brooke Gregson regularly holds pop-ups of her crafted couture collections. Of course, it is great news for the shopper, to have so much choice, and have a really global outlook to style. The best of London, New York, Mumbai and Karachi are all available at your doorstep. It is a fashionista's dream come to true.

The downside is that it is easy to get carried away at these exhibitions - pop-ups, new-age retail concepts or whatever you may call them. So it is important to plan your spend. Designers often tie up with prominent women, known for their style, to draw in the right clientele. This may mean you know the hostess, and so feel compelled to shop. Do not feel obligated, buy only if you really fall in love with the designs on display.

Keep a budget of cash and clothes in mind. You do want to end up spending on clothes only worn by your cupboard. It is easy to get tempted, so you need to pace yourself. It takes discipline not to be enticed. So don't carry more than a certain amount of cash, and keep counting what you spend on that credit card. It's best to go with a friend whose opinion you know you can trust.

Do your research before you go to the show, as some designers use these pop-ups as a clever way of dumping last season's stock. You do not want to pay full price for something that can be found on the sale racks of your own country. Often, these pop-ups are held just for one or two days, so you feel the pressure of buying. Do take your time and think as impulse shopping is never a good idea! That said, remember this is the season to indulge, so take advantage of the choices you have.

Other pop-ups to watch out for

Bandra 190: This brings to you the best style of Mumbai's Bandra high glamour style. With Seema Khan's festive wear, Maheep Kapoor's fine jewellery, and accessories by Amishi, this is all about full-on Bollywood style. (October 3, 10am-7pm at the Taj Dubai's Byzantium Lounge)

L'Edit: Faiza Rangoonwala edits Pakistani style with a pop-up that will house the work of Misha Lakhani and Shamsha Hashwani as well as accessories from Lahore's Rema Luxe. From resort to evening wear; from boho baubles to statement jewellery, this pop-up is great for both festive and cruise fashion. (October 6 &7, 11am-7pm), at The Urbanist, Box Park.

K/S Dubai Diwali Showcase: Curated by two of the city's best-known style curators, Simran Shroff and Kamu Vachani, this is a pop-up of Delhi's Carma, one of India's pioneering lifestyle stores that is home to the collections of Sabyasachi and Anamika Khanna. This comes to the Emirates for the first time. To add some real feel of Diwali, Simran and Kamu will also be including the jewellery collection of Kajal Fabiani. Her brand KAJ has been showing in Dubai for several seasons. Also a part of this show is Fabulous Furs, a brand curated by Simran and Kamu themselves. (October12, 10am to 7pm, at The Address Montgomerie, Emirates Hill)

The writer is Khaleej Times Consulting Fashion Editor

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