Christian Louboutin and Bottega Veneta join the luxury pop-up phenomenon

It's retail's answer to Tinder dating – a short-term relationship that's pitched to the consumer with few strings attached. What's more, there's plenty of perks to make you feel like you're the only one in on a VIP secret.

The rise of the pop-up store has seen many luxury brands latch onto the 'now-you-see-us, now-you-don't' shop front in a bid to gain your attention and make you feel important.

In a world of ever-changing consumer expectations, the arrival of the pop-up gives retailers a chance to shine a spotlight on limited edition collections while consumers can buy exclusive drops only few will have a chance to own.

Whether that's cult sneakers, bags or clothing, pop-ups curate a selection of product targeting budgets seeking a slice of this luxury experiment.

Unfettered freedom

But the rise of the pop-up is more than just showcasing stock with a limited run. It's about retailers not tying themselves into rental contracts, free to do the Houdini when the magic runs out.

Christian Louboutin recently opened its first men's stand-alone pop-up store a stone's throw from its boutique in shopping mecca Westfield Sydney. It's the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

The Paris-based designer's decision to open a pop-up until January 2018, gives gents a chance to purchase three footwear styles from the Rollerboat sneaker known for its iconic spikes, the Luglion in all its signature linear red line glory while the Thomas II dress shoe is also available.

It follows a few firsts for Louboutin who launched his men's line back in 2011, and just this year took his sneaker campaign to Florence's Pitti Uomo in the brand's bid to lure street style aficionados to his product.

Prada also joins the pop-up world at Westfield, Sydney until October 8 with the Italian luxury brand introducing the Prada Robot Tricks collection – featuring wallets, iPhone cases, key chains, backpacks and shoppers in a range of soft Saffiano leather meets electric blue contrasts in this kitsch collection.


Market testers

Harrolds is no stranger to testing the retail market using this format. While they haven't hosted in a separate location to their flagship boutiques in Melbourne and Sydney, they have tried and tested the concept within their stores.

They teamed with Australian designers Song for the Mute and Strateas Carlucci around Australian Fashion Week in a bid to highlight new product only available in limited edition collections. They also collaborated with Cartier for a limited edition watch in both Melbourne and Sydney.

"Pop-ups are a great means to create awareness and exposure when launching exclusive product," says head buyer Rob Ferris.

"It's also a great way for emerging brands to come into the market, and help more established brands to maintain relevance," he says.

Next year, Harrolds will introduce the Heron Preston men's and women's pop-up.

Investing in the future

Bottega Veneta is the latest to unveil a pop-up concept, with a store opening at Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne last month until the end of 2018.

It's hardly a short-term fling, but the idea is to plant the seed with customers heading to the luxury retails precinct. The brand will focus on men's handbags, small leather goods, fragrances, eyewear and accessories to highlight key products and give customers a one-on-one experience.

In a world obsessed with online transactions, the pop-up sees a return to the tactile shopping experience but for a short-stay only. You'll hardly have a falling out because the pop-up doesn't give you a chance to make an attachment.

The Dior pop-up store at Westfield in Sydney was modelled after the Hardior Style of the Winter 2017 campaign. It channels the energy of a '90s rave party, complete with warehouse-style trimmings.

Designed by Dior Homme Artistic Director Kris Van Assche, the collection includes ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes and accessories while a special limited edition B17 sneaker is available in black with white all-over 'bee' print, which you can't buy anywhere else.

A global phenomenon

The pop-up concept wave in Australia follows those who set the benchmark abroad – look at Spanish luxury label Loewe in their Ibiza pop-up this past summer. The store opened at Ibiza's MACE (Museum of Contemporary Art) to coincide with two exhibitions – the Guerlain collection and Paula's Ibiza vintage pieces.

And the Kingsman X Mr Porter pop-up shop in London's Piccadilly is an example of an online retailer cashing in on real-time events. It will remain open until the end of the year and gives fans and consumers a chance to buy the film's world of curated British luxury, with a new line focused on iconic Americana.

According to Ferris, the hype around a pop-up generates more sales, which translates into a huge win for brands.

"The more hype created around a pop-up space and the product within it, tends to drive more clients into the stores equating to higher sales," says Ferris.

"Exclusive product ranges and limited number of pieces have a big appeal to clients."