United Colors of Knitted Sex Positions Comes to Soho

As it turns out, a lot can happen in three weeks: a vacant garage in Soho can be turned into a pop-up store, a bunch of colorful, wind-defying knitted clothes can be thrown into the space, and several life-size, knitted sculptures of couples in Kama Sutra positions can be hung from the ceiling and ogled at. And so begins the story of the latest United Colors of Benetton pop-up shop.

Celebrating “The Art of Knit” (and many other things), United Colors of Benetton’s new concept store is a bit of a wonderland; one walk through, and you feel like you swallowed a ball of rainbow yarn and then methodically spit it out onto the four surrounding walls. But it’s all in good fun – lots of fun, actually – since the clothing store is unlike any other clothing store you’ve walked into, probably.

Most notably because knitted sculptures of couples in sex positions hang from the ceiling. Yes, I said it before, but I’ll say it again. We’re talking life-size statues, which is kind of ironic because those couples certainly don’t need clothes (and such beautiful wool clothes at that) when they’re in those positions, but that’s not the point.

Other unique nuances include the assorted “home goods” on the walls – knitted mirrors, hammers, skateboards, cacti, and flags – that will be auctioned in December, when the pop-up leaves this fair land with the new year. All of the home goods were made by just 12 students from FABRICA, a venerable art and design school in Italy, and all of them were created in just the past three weeks. Talented folk.

And if you’re too busy staring at the sculptures and trying on knitted socks and shawls to remember the time, the pop-up has a handy-dandy multimedia clock to remind you, with each digit on its own screen, photographed, and made of yarn. Yes, there is a theme here.

And who would have thought, you know? That a shop filled with knitted sweaters, sex positions, and cacti could literally just pop-up next to a BP gas station. Soho, these days. Thank heavens. 

United Colors of Benetton Pop-Up

Hamptons Preview: C. Wonder

With barely a snowflake having touched down in the New York Metro area all winter, suddenly the Hamptons season is upon us. And these days even the Jitney crowd craves style at an attainable price. And so J. Christopher Burch’s C. Wonder will be–literally–popping up along Southampton’s Main Street just in time for the sound of popping beach umbrellas.

A sensation when it debuted in Soho this past October, C. Wonder’s new Hamptons summer pop-up shop will cater to more breezy concerns, with fanciful gifts, brightly-hued fashions and flip flops, roller skates, and picnic baskets–along with specialized monogramming and engraving services to make your friends jealous. The brand’s whimsical, wildly colorful aesthetic inclinations (interiors are done up with animal motifs and nautical-themed window displays) are bested only by its friendly price points–the average product costs only about $40. A corresponding pop-up will also open in Nantucket. Opens Memorial Day. 

Communist Jeans Coming To A City Near You

North Korean-made denim will soon be making its way around the globe thanks to a traveling temporary boutique thought up by three Swedes. Just a few months ago new Swedish denim label Noko launched after Jakob Ohlsson, Tor Rauden Källstigen and Jacob Aström, up late drinking one night, found an imports and exports contact on North Korea’s official homepage. Spiegel has an interesting, play-by-play account of what followed, including a meeting at the North Korean embassy in Stockholm, where the trio brought along “Ohlsson’s father, a suit-wearing dentist, to their first meeting to add an aura of credibility.”

What followed was a decidedly bizarre back and forth between Sweden and North Korea, to set up manufacturing. Then came the huge press push and then the bailing of the sole Swedish department store committed to carrying the controversial jeans. But Noko wasn’t discouraged. The brains behind the unique company have instead set up “their own shop in Stockholm — which includes both jeans and a museum of North Korea.” The shop opened in late December and according to Noko‘s website will only stay open through early February. After that, “it’ll leave Stockholm and travel elsewhere,” therefore marking the world’s first-ever traveling pop-up shop hawking communist-made wares.

Pop-Up Shops Losing Steam

2009 was the year of the pop-up shop. Like designer collaborations, temporary retail spaces have proliferated in every pocket of the sartorial market. From eBay and the Ace Hotel to blogs like A Continuous Lean, it wasn’t just fashion boutiques that participated in the trend this past year. Thanks to the economic downturn spawning an endless stream of empty storefronts (and landlords subsequently looking for short-term renters to fill the void), not to mention the inherent novelty of a shop with an extremely short shelf-life, the sheer number of pop-up shops to open and close their doors in NYC alone this year was staggering. But the trend won’t last for long.

Or, at least not with the same gusto. “The ideal duration of a pop-up store is six months. I don’t think this phenomenon will be successful after the recession is over,” says Jean Bousquet, the president of Cacharel told Women’s Wear Daily. But, don’t expect full-on pop-up extinction. The next incarnation of novelty shopping is well underway: online pop-up shops. “Already, Outnet.com offers one-off ‘pop-up sales,’ and neimanmarcus.com and saksfifthavenue.com initiated a midday dash, a two-hour sale on regular full-price merchandise,” adds WWD. Meanwhile, guerrilla pop-up shops are likewise gaining steam as a new extension of the trend. Rei Kawakubo has done it for Comme des Garçons. Now A.F. Vandevorst is following suit in Belgiam with a newly opened shop at an as-of-yet-unidentified Antwerp location, with more locations slated to open around the globe. Pop-ups meanwhile aren’t the only dominating trend A.F. Vandevorst is taking part in; like everyone from Missoni and Zac Posen to Rodarte, the designer has launched a lower-priced line called A Friend, which will likewise be sold in the brand’s temporary boutiques.

Corporate Sponsored Pop-Ups Keep Popping Up

2009 will go down as the year of the pop-up shop. Thanks to the recession and formerly sky-high rents, temporary boutiques are all the rage. This holiday season the roster of pop-ups slated to hit urban streets have a new component: corporate sponsorship. Bailey’s sponsored a footwear-focused pop-up shop in Manhattan earlier this month, and now Nissan’s taking part with three separate pop-up shops that have little to do with automobiles.

Created in conjunction with Colette — the Parisian boutique synonymous with cool — the temporary spaces include outposts in Paris, London and Berlin (which each opened on Thanksgiving Day). “On offer in the stores, which will remain open through Dec. 31, are more than 80 objects by Japanese designers who have been cherry-picked by Colette. These include a “music balloon” by Yuento, a paper cup holder by Bonboog, the Wajima Collection’s quilt sofa and Tate Otama kitchenware,” says Women’s Wear Daily. Each space is titled the Cube, in honor of Nissan’s latest car model (whose summertime commercials were set to NYPC’s “Ice Cream”), and will host exhibitions and screenings.