Tuesday, 6 April 2010

POPPING up all over the SHOP

The pop up shop does exactly what it says on the tin. A fleeting and momentary existence, and increasingly a synonymous sign of something cultural in our midst. A hub of temporary activity, and sometimes an obscure and unexplained location which jars with the normal preconceived notion of a shop. The idea is certainly not new, it has been around for a few years, a fledgling phenomenon that occasionally rears it's ugly head in a press frenzy of excitement. But recently, the pop up shop, space and exhibition has been here there and everywhere, with a cultural kick up the backside. Spring has been blossoming quietly while the likes of Harvey Nichols, Sketchbook Magazine and the BFC and Bicester Village have all been causing quite a stir in the fashion and art worlds. 

Back in March Harvey Nichols, caravan container style shop popped up at Hanover Square, with the best of a brilliant bunch of Harvey Nics fourth floor goodness. With contemporary fashion on the move, the white container, complete with quirky exterior, eye-catching artwork, offered up a host of fashionable finds, with a take on the traditional vending machine, a photobooth and a veritable selection Kidrobot figures and Assouline fashion books. 

I see the recent prevalence of the pop up shop as some sort of signifier - a big flashing beacon of contemporary consumer culture. We want it fast and fun. Disposable is key. We all [supposedly] have disposable incomes. We want disposable fashion. And our culture is the essence of disposable. Disposable, in my head, was always the code for cheap and cheerful. Like a disposable camera. The sheer entertainment, and often excitement that would result from a plastic, throw away camera always amused me. The rise in the more serious and long-lasting digital camera [although a friend of mine once mistook my silver snap clicker for its cheap plastic counterpart and threw it across the floor - needless to say my camera is now fighting for its life and continues working with a vast amount of sellotape holding it together] somewhat took the patience is a virtue esque feeling out of photography when the picture was instantaneously placed in front of us. But that too illustrates the very backbone  of our culture. We want to see the image now instead of waiting a week and eagerly walking to boots to collect what we hope will be some photographic gems. Everything has to be instant and constant in equal measure.

This is another recent shop which has popped. The BFC and Bicester Village have collaborated in the form of this boutique, to showcase and support some fabulous British fashion. And in keeping with the Bicester Village outlet image, all boutique finds have up to 50% off [which for my empty purse, still isn't enough]. With designers including Emma Cook, Hannah Marshall, Erdem, Osman, Preen, Louise Amstrup and Mark Fast, Bicester Village and the BFC are really blowing the British fashion trumpet with this six week wonder. 

Disposable shops now seem to be at the forefront of the fashion trail. In this instance its less cheap and cheerful, and more exclusive and elite. A sense of situation snobbery exudes from the pop up shop. The idea of the pop up shop is very 21st century don't you think. In a time where fashion rules the world [well not quite but sometimes I think it's not far off] and the media industry has exploded with social networking, it seems there has been a real social transgression. Once upon a time it was important to get the right people talking, now it's how many people can you get talking, or tweeting. So while the pop up shop is all about the fuss it makes among the bloggers, journalists and pr's, and how much press it instigates, it's core flash mob mentality and elusive nature makes it inaccessible to most. 

And the latest pop up is already in full bloom. With a sale by date of mid April, the Sketchbook magazine pop up shop in the heart of soho is less of a pop up shop and more of a pop up space/exhibition/visual adventure and learning experience. 

Sketchbook is a quarterly magazine that specializes in creative things, from fashion and illustration to design and culture, weather established or emerging, there is a strong emphasis on features, photography and even more so, illustration. To coincide with the release of the 2nd issue of sketchbook, the whole idea is existent because of the sheer determination and commitment of undergrad student, Rachel Menashy, who proposed the idea for her third year university project back in November. This is much more than a shop. And your money wouldn't buy you much in here anyway. Because pennies are not in circulation, the previous exclusive, what money can buy you bubble has popped. Instead a sense of active encouragement and inclusion emerges from the baby blue door. With a whole host of to die for lectures and workshops and a multitude of visual treats on display, it is well worth a trip. 

Is it that our attention spans are shorter than they used to be? Do we get bored too easily? Have we become programmed to expect change on a continual basis? Are we just a generation of fast movers and thinkers, who have become so used to the constant stimulation on offer. We are bombarded daily with images, to sell, to attract and to pleasure [and to make us part with our cash] and we have, and can have anything at the touch of a button [mostly]. We are so accustomed to the notion that nothing is out of reach, and we needn't wait for anything, and we can have everything NOW. This is what makes the pop up shop so interesting in my mind. Because the whole essence of the pop up is that it flourishes upon our high speed, short term, disposable culture. Yet in its sheer impulsive state, it is impossible for everyone to encounter its existence; miss it and you miss out. 

As part of the internet generation, the disposable generation, and the generation that sometimes doesn't understand that patience can be a virtue, one saying resonates in my head from my younger years; you snooze you loose.

1 comment:

  1. what an excellent post! i too am beginning to think that fashion is going to eat the world. it's getting so darn expensive that it is out of the reach of the average earner so then they come up with designers for Target or H&M but really it's all about how much money they can make. the frenzy all these covert pop ups cause is crazy! Hx


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