Pop-up shops are nothing new in New York City. With insanely high commercial rents and an uncertain economic future, anyone sane would be wary about plunking down tens of thousands of dollars on a five- to ten-year lease. Hence the genius of a pop-up store. Taking up residence in a giant vacant storefront at 186 Orchard Street, Wish You Were Here is the newest summer addition to the trend of transient retail.
Opening to the public this Saturday, Wish You Were Here is the first chapter in a two-part international clothing exchange. Essentially a very chic mini-mall, the space hosts more than a dozen labels from London. A few well-known lines like the essential Fred Perry mix with cult labels like Hurwundeki, Beyond the Valley, and Chateau Roux. Some of the menswear (like a Union Jack blazer) seems like it will have difficulty translating to the shabby scruff of the Lower East Side, although there are a few dapper chaps lurking about. Frankly I am under the belief that every guy should own at least one Fred Perry, so it's reason enough to send the fellows on over. The womens' garb is more easy in its appeal: rompers, frills, soft knits, cropped jackets...all the featured lines are super feminine and colorful. And since the recent TopShop invasion every downtown girl in New York seems to be dress (for better or worse) like a neon British teen, this will give us some relief when it comes to our worries about UK fashion.
Keeping with the travel vibe, the fixtures are constructed primarily of shipping crates. To complete the transformation, they flew in artist Shantell Martin as the Londoner/artist-in-residence. They let me sneak in early to take some pictures of the space as they prepared for this weekend's public launch, where I saw Shantell there working on the drawings lining the walls. Check out her handywork and the designer wares for both guys and gals this Saturday through September 13th.
The exchange won't be complete until New York gives up the goods as well. After the Orchard space closes, another pop-up is going up in London's Newburgh Quarter featuring a host of New York brands including Earnest Sewn, In God We Trust, and Reed Space, and, bizarrely, Zarin Fabric Warehouse, famous of late for being the business of one of the husbands on the Real Housewives of New York (I wonder if Jill Zarin will make an appearance). The "Lower East Siders" space will be open for four weeks, spanning from October 1st to the 31st.
Here is a mini-tour of the space in progress along with some of the more desirable rags: