The rise and rise of the pop-up shop has meant that many eyes have turned to the lower end of the market for new ideas.
The theory in fashion used to be that new influences came from the top down or bottom up.
The latter involved down-and-dirty ‘street’ style making its artificially-stimulated way towards the mid-market and it was regarded as important — and probably still is. This was not the way with store design. Street style had a tendency to mean corner shop; not something to which the average fashion pundit would aspire.
The rise and rise of the pop-up shop however has meant that many eyes have turned to the lower end of the market for new ideas. The two Diesel stores, one male, one female, on Carnaby Street are a case in point.
This is a shop that has filled its windows with broken TVs, smashed phones and beaten-up looking vintage suitcases. The shop-front has been deliberately distressed, appearing to be at that stage when paint has been roughly stripped from woodwork and is awaiting a new coat of gloss. Step inside and the same reach-me-down aesthetic informs the interior with wallpaper peeling in strips from the ceiling.
Having been on a visit to Berlin last week and seen the Nike SB pop-up store, in the trendy eastern part of the city (it’s only open for a month), some of the treatments given to the two stores were almost interchangeable.
There is, of course, an argument that this form of retailing has been around for years in the form of rough luxe. The difference is that pop-ups are showing that it needn’t cost a huge amount of money and can be just as impactful as anything that comes from design’s headier reaches.
Berlin, by the way, continues to be the spiritual home of pop-up - there are areas where all the shops look as if they are temporary, even when they’ve taken long leases. This is probably because, up to now, it’s one of the few cities that has had huge amounts of available space in parts of its centre.
Even allowing for the tenant fall-out that has taken place over the last year, the same couldn’t really be said for London or, say, Paris.
This is not to say that pop-up’s influence is not being felt. You know things are shifting and that shabby chic store design is coming under scrutiny like never before when John Lewis talks about the “denim wall” in its recently-opened Cardiff store.
OK, it may not have Diesel’s guerrilla ambiance, but there can be little doubt about where the influence has come from. Still a bit of a stretch to imagine a rough luxe clothing department in Asda or Tesco though.