As London Fashion week draws to a close, we’re taking a step off the catwalk and into our favorite retail activations, asking ourselves, how can we celebrate style and trends in a way that's interactive but still inspirational?
Back in February The British Fashion Council's London Fashion Week Festival introduced a new approach aimed at making everyone 'Insiders', with consumer events, 'see-now, buy-now' catwalk shows and immersive brand experiences.
This September, London Fashion Week (LFW), became the first of four global fashion weeks to offer dedicated trade and public audience experiences in its seven-day lineup. Ticket holders were given the chance to watch six designer catwalk shows, listen in on panel discussions with industry experts, survey showcases of designers focusing on sustainability and ethics, and interact with the discoveryLAB, 'an experiential space where fashion meets art, technology and music'.
However, it was the 'city-wide celebration' schedule that really upped the ante when it came to accessible, but engaging consumer experiences. Curating a schedule of over 74 stores, 66 brands and 170 events in the week, LFW made a public statement.
So, we've taken a look at some of our favourite fashion pop-ups that successfully took fashion from being exclusive to experiential.
Microsoft x London College of Fashion
The Oxford Street Microsoft Store gave visitors the chance to customise, print and take home their own tote bag as part of a partnership with the London College of Fashion (LCF). The activation also hosted interactive workshops and panel discussions at their new flagship location, which focused on how technology is shaping and influencing the future of fashion.
Bespoke interactive workshops, each led by industry-leading tutors and alumni from the LCF were carried out alongside sustainability workshops, providing insights from luxury fashion designer and researcher Gabrielle Miller and fashion futures student Aniela Fidler.
“Through unique retail experiences, Microsoft Store aims to bring people closer to a range of technologies, and the Microsoft Store x London College of Fashion Curriculum is just one example of how the flagship is the best place to experience all that’s possible with Microsoft.” - John Carter, Microsoft Senior Store Manager
The innovation workshop, hosted by LCF’s Head of Fashion Innovation, gave its audience an insight into how artificial intelligence is starting to be used in the fashion industry and how technology can help drive sustainable pattern cutting.
The Postbox Maze
Drawing inspiration from M. C. Escher's mural designed for the Hague Post office, Anya Hindmarch (notorious for her avant-garde LFW installations, previously including Chubby Hearts and a giant bean bag) produced this postbox-inspired maze.
Connected to her new Postbox bag, the installation let the public step inside and solve the maze, but also went far beyond a rudimentary puzzle. The space integrated a gallery of curiosities (artefacts loaned from the Postal Museum), exhibits in collaboration with Letters Live and calligraphy workshops run by Quill London. Along with a café and concept store for visitors to muse over the handwritten word in.
GAP's Embroider Your Denim
Celebrating all things indigo in their Denim Futures pop-up, GAP invites their customers to step back in time with 'Denim through the Decades' through the month of September, debuting new limited edition and premium ranges and an interesting new collaboration with Atelier & Repairs.
Visitors of the month-long pop-up store are able to customise their own GAP denim by hemming, studding, distressing, patching, embroidering and even lasering it completely for free. And to mark the arrival of LFW, Selkie Patterns, a popular sewing and textiles company, ran accompanying workshops to show participants how to embellish their denim in simple but effective ways – upcycling, hiding stains and reinvigorating old items.
Other activations that are of noteworthy mention include Cos’ display of a patterned installation which spoke to their creative process, Kate Spade serving up drinks and nibbles along with free monogramming for any handbag purchases, Karl Lagerfeld offering custom nail art by DryBy London and exclusive gifts with purchases, and J.Crew even brought out the Braid Bar for complimentary hair braiding.
This year's London Fashion Week proved in abundance that a well-crafted pop-up experience can pave the way for fashion to be properly celebrated in retail environments.