Holt Renfrew pop-up shop, Toronto

Temporary space featured a gender-neutral décor
Posted January 26, 2010
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The pop-up shop that Holt Renfrew opened for five days last December on Toronto’s King Street West featured a “decidedly unisex look,” says Barbara Atkin, the upscale Canadian retailer’s vp of fashion direction. The reason: “We know that in our flagship store, the secure and the fashion savvy venture into a variety of areas to shop, regardless of gender,” Atkin explains. “We viewed the pop-up shop as a chance to test a true shared shopping experience, where the lines between male and female dressing are deliberately blurred, and it was extremely successful.”

To create the desired gender-neutral environment, designers populated the 1000-square-foot space with a variety of raw materials and fixtures, says Scott Ferguson, Holt Renfrew’s coordinator, visual. “We decided on a neutral color palette and mixed in materials like wood, canvas and cardboard throughout the shop,” Ferguson says. “We wrapped weathered work ladders in muslin, which really leant a sense of femininity to an otherwise masculine object. There was a lot of play between hard and soft objects in the shop, which added to the overall androgynous feel of the space.”

The pop-up space was housed in the ground floor of a condominium complex. To build buzz about the space prior to its opening, Holt Renfrew began injecting hints of its magenta brand color into the space’s facade. “About a week before the opening, we installed magenta florescent lighting through the length of the space’s windows, which created a bold visual impact at night and a wash of color in the day,” says Ferguson. “We also painted 560 King Street West (the store’s address), on the windows in magenta a few days prior to the opening.”