British Designer JW Anderson and Converse successfully exhibit shiny collaboration, with Pop Up shop in London’s SOHO.
At the intersection of Art and Fashion, adjacent to the heart of London’s famous Regent Street shopping, is where Northern Irish Designer, Jonathan Anderson chose to host his fashionable art exhibit – the July 2018 collaborative collection with the iconic American shoe company, Converse. “We are a British brand, and just felt right to do something in London. And Soho in particular, I love it,” Anderson said to the Standard when discussing the July 2018 launch. Despite the shoes being sold in select retailers and online via Converse, the pop-up gallery rendered lots of attention from London’s shopping traffic, as well as both the art and fashion industries.
￼Wearable Art and the Gallery Storefront
With glossy, plastic-like finishes, and embossed ‘JWA’ initials on the back the shoes come in different textures and colours. Anderson designs wearable art – displaying his practical creativity.
JW Anderson took the opportunity to treat a fashion design collaboration as not only ‘shoes for sale’, but modern art, to create and display. Together with Converse, they transformed a classic London shop-front into a temporary art gallery/pop-up shop fixture, nestled on the corner of Soho’s Beak Street. Filled with his latest creations, the gallery draws attention from the street with its prominent old-meets-new vibe, displaying bright and whimsical colours in the windows of an otherwise “classic London” building, and by reinventing the classic Chuck Taylor, using a “new shiny toy” look. This designer said (of his collaboration with Converse) to Vogue Magazine “I actually think you get better results through collaboration, because you’ve got restraints in terms of their branding, our branding, and then in terms of construction. You have to think more about product design than fashion design.”
The transformed temporary location is adorned with a bright gradient paint job – mimicking the patent leather gradient of a pair of Chuck Taylor 70 high tops featured in the collection. The building was also decked with the internationally recognized branding of Converse Sneakers, as well as JWA’s branding – created an excitingly limited and desirable outside aesthetic atmosphere – pulling consumers and a general curious audience from the street.
Design rule no. 9,375: Effective use of space
As described by London news website It’s Nice That “This experience embodies the space which the relationship between JW Anderson and Converse occupies. The two exist at opposite ends of the fashion spectrum – Anderson at the forward-thinking end, pushing the boundaries of high fashion and Converse at the iconic, made for everyone end – and it’s this unique space which provides the driving force for their joint collections […] a space to celebrate the creative communities that embrace these differences and the renewed Chuck 70s.”
Anderson certainly put his creative concept skills to use in utilizing and transforming the space and creating the schedule of events for his Pop Up exhibit. Integrating experiential marketing into the gallery storefront, the location hosted design workshops and lectures after hours. This reinforced the ‘gallery feel’ of the location, truly emphasizing the artistic edge of the shoe’s designs, even for those leaving with them on their feet.
In addition to displaying Anderson’s collection – the space also exhibited pieces by LA Artist Delfin Finley. Over the course of three days, workshops and discussions were hosted at the pop up shop with curator Kimberly Drew, female creative network Babyface, and multimedia artists Kusheda Mensa, Christabel MacGreevy and Antonia Marsh – allowing guests, visitors, and customers alike to basque in the wearable art’s host space and engage with Soho’s creative community.
Why are Pop-up Shops ‘Popping up’ everywhere?
In the world of online retail, brands are using temporary Pop up Shops as sales drivers, to launch products or to cater to and extend their fanbase. The temporary locations help to create an overnight intrigue and encourage impulse purchases. Pop-up Shops are a strategic marketing and distribution instrument. As Anderson did with the ‘Toy’ collection – the display is eye-catching, different, experiential, and fleeting with the moment, as the events only took place over 4 days.
Consumers desire to be a part of history. Just as we all crave to find an authentic, vintage and iconic pair of our mothers 60’s bell bottoms, or claim to know someone who attended Woodstock – consumers cling to the idea of value in the future. So getting their hands on a limited edition, artist collaboration is a moments decision – and easier to make when the opportunity is on the street, right in front of your eyes.
From a business perspective, Pop-up shops create a unique and exciting retail experience that require little financial investment while providing quality advertising, physical atmosphere, flexibility, and yielding an additional revenue with direct customer feedback. So the real question becomes: why NOT?
The JW Anderson Pop-Up Success
Needless to say, Anderson understands his audience, both in product design, originality, and exclusivity. As a recognized and admired London designer, having emerged onto the city’s fashion map in 2008, JW Anderson maintains its reputation as one of London’s ‘most innovative and forward-thinking brands’. With a permanent workshop location in Shoreditch, JW Anderson managed to centralize the brand and the collection, positioning themselves amongst the heavy tourist and local shopping congestion of Carnaby, all while creating an exciting, and unique storefront, catering to the collection. We hope to see more exciting Pop Up locations from JW Anderson and similar brands in the coming years, especially as the concept becomes more popular internationally among artists, designers, and retailers!