The Louis Vuitton x Supreme global pop up strategy
A masterful mix of collaboration and pop up marketing.
Last week we started seeing mentions of a Louis Vuitton pop up shop coming to Sydney… not within the gilded retail malls of the CBD, but amongst the sun and surf culture of Bondi Beach… The store was announced on Wednesday, to open on Friday – launching a collaboration of the classic Louis Vuitton brand with US streetwear label Supreme.
Supreme is a New York-based brand, catering “to the skateboarding, hip hop and punk rock cultures, and youth culture at large”* – favoured by celebrities, fashionistas and the uber-cool . Much of the standard Supreme range retails for around $20 to $50 – but their collaborative collections (previously with brands such as Nike, Playboy, Timberland and Comme des Garçons) command much more…
This collaboration with Louis Vuitton – launched with the Autumn Winter 2017 men’s collection – has been anticipated for months. There was a previous attempt at a pop up teaser store in New York back in May… but that was stopped by a campaign from local residents, citing safety and access concerns#. Supreme releases new items regularly (weekly in fact… at 1100am EST / USA every Thursday), attracting long lines of customers at its NYC Lafayette Street store#
The Supreme brand is highly collectable – many of those weekly New York customers are re-sellers, keen to flip the products at huge mark ups (Fashionista.com says a ”T-shirt with the brand’s iconic logo, which retails for $32, can sell on the secondhand market for up to $400” ). In Sydney, T-shirts purchased at the pop up shop were “quickly sold to others further down in the queue for $1400. A red and white hoodie jumper… cost $1400 inside. Outside it fetched $2800”^
And so… fans started lining up early in Bondi, with “nothing but sleeping bags and wads of $50 and $100 bills just waiting to be first in the world to purchase the new Supreme collection…”^ Others camped out in cars nearby, taking turns in the queue.
This wasn’t just a Sydney experience, although it was the first – opening ahead of the 7 other cities which also hosted pop up stores. Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, Paris, London, Miami and Los Angeles all launched the same Louis Vuitton x Supreme collection last Friday, each of them attracting long queues and quickly selling out of most stock. In Sydney there have been reports in local media today – 6 days after opening – of customers who complain of “disorganisation” and not getting the products they wanted (News.com.au – Fashion fan furious at disrespect).
That doesn’t happen if you’re Justin Bieber though (he’s currently in Sydney, for a Hillsong Conference) – he had his own private viewing at the Bondi store yesterday.
All this adventure needs some clever planning and control. In Sydney the store rules are no mobile phones, no food and drink, bags and backpacks must be zipped closed… and only 8 shoppers at a time. The LA Times.com has “offered 6 shopping tips” for the Louis Vuitton x Supreme pop up – ditch the car but don’t forget the sunscreen, bring photo ID (early arrivals could collect numbered tickets to save waiting in line), do your homework first (you’ll only have 20 minutes in store, accompanied by a sales associate…), take time to view the other LV menswear items on offer – and prepare to “rewind and repeat”.
That last suggestion is interesting… rewind and repeat. The LA Times article says “it’s a pretty safe bet that additional items from the collection will be added to the mix until the pop-up ends its run… This is significant for two reasons. First, it means that if you’re not the kind of hard-core collector who hops a flight from San Francisco to be in line when the doors open, there’s still a chance to score something from the collaboration. Second, it’s added incentive to revisit and repeat at a later date in hopes of finding something fresh…”
This Louis Vuitton collection is obviously a sophisticated marketing exercise – collaborating with the Supreme label as a means of reaching a whole new customer base, while using the cult profile of pop up (immediate, sought-after and limited) to gain wide media coverage. They teased us locally with the announcement of Sydney, then followed up with release of the global stores… and have maintained media interest with leaks of celebrity visits and the occasional customer complaint !
This contrasts with the official Louis Vuitton line though…. The Telegraph.co.uk quoted LV CEO Michael Burke saying “the new, renegade, millennial consumer was precisely what was so refreshing about the project…they serve a function to disrupt and make us look at things differently,” he says. “There will be no marketing and no press release. We won’t be pandering to the custom. It’s all about peer-to-peer communication. We provide a very minimum amount of information and let people judge it from there.”
The Sydney Louis Vuitton x Supreme pop up shop will be open from 10am to 6pm until 13th July, at 95 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach.
* source : Wikipedia.org / Supreme
# source : Fashionista.com – 23rd May 2017
^ source : SMH.com.au – die hard fans camp overnight
images : Louis Vuitton x Supreme pop up stores 2017
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