Pioneering retailers like Dover Street Market have found success with transforming short-lived pop-ups into a permanent concept. Thus the role of pop-ups has evolved in recent years into a strategy that can drive real brand engagement. For emerging brands in particular, the cost-effective and temporary aspect of pop-ups allows them to test products and ideas and learn about their audiences risk-free.
Yet this tactic tends to fall short when expanding into overseas markets where often larger resources and local expertise are required to break into unfamiliar territory. Ilona Taillade set out to tackle this issue with her permanent pop-up concept, FÖMO (Fear Of Missing Out), launching its first outpost in Gothenburg, Sweden last year.
Taillade already founded BrandSpots, a consultancy firm helping international brands find pop-up solutions in new retail environments, and We Are Pop-Up, a peer-to-peer platform providing brands with short term retail spaces. Now she has turned her attention to creating a permanent platform to host a constant rotation of multi-brand pop-ups and events, and provide a gateway for young designers to reach new consumers.
“We discovered a lot of young international brands were interested in entering the Nordic market, but they were struggling because of the significant costs involved,” Taillade explains. “If a brand is trying to open a retail space in a Scandinavian country, the cost would amount to a minimum of €120,000, just to set up shop.” Since opening last year, the store has already featured 50 international brands including sculptural British ready-to-wear label Georgia Hardinge, Estonian lingerie brand BonBon, and ethical womenswear brand Lana Siberie.
Commanding a 420 square metre space within a brand new shopping complex, FÖMO offers multiple business packages – including consignments, renting out spaces on the shop floor, and organising temporary events – and each brand is given up to three months to test out the environment. Buyers are also welcome in-store, allowing the retail space to double up as a wholesale showroom: “It’s about creating flexible retail – nothing we do is traditional because if we want to move forward, we have to move with the times.”
“It’s about creating flexible retail – nothing we do is traditional because we have to move with the times.”
Yet while Taillade agrees that fashion is the easiest to sell, she admits that its sales are often unpredictable, especially in a second-tier city where consumer tastes and habits tend to differ from major locations: “It’s always a learning curve – some brands or categories thrive while others don’t work at all. It can be difficult to pinpoint why, but you learn from the experience.”
To build engagement and intrigue, Taillade introduces interactive events and parties each weekend, featuring local performers, artists and musicians “to create traction, inspire word of mouth and offer a one-off experience.” Aside from selling products and increasing brand awareness, store staff collect valuable consumer feedback – from price point placements to high and low sellers. Taillade also believes FÖMO can differentiate itself by building an authentic community for both collaborators and consumers.
In terms of expansion, Taillade is interested in taking FÖMO global, with the ambition to launch flagship stores in major cities across Europe, the Middle East and the US. “We want to build partnerships and opportunities for brands in new locations - and create a fresh and accessible experience that is still largely unattainable in many places around the world.” Having debuted in a second-tier city at mid-range pricing, she is now keen to take on the luxury end of the market. But for now, fans of the pop-up concept will soon be able to find FÖMO online, with an e-commerce version set to offer click and collect, international shipping and an on-the-go shopping experience.