GRAMMAR, the e-commerce brand known for its collection of crisp white shirts, opened its first pop-up store in NYC to debut 3 new styles. Booking this space for a week’s duration, the brand created an immersive experience based on values of “simplicity, beauty, design, and sustainability” bringing in artists and experience designers to create the full effect, and showcase the styles in a simplistic way.
We spoke with founder Althea Simons on the meaning behind this pop-up store experience, and the importance of adding custom design elements in the space to make it pop. See her tips below!
- The inspiration behind the store.
“The Pop Up, like the brand name, takes inspiration from the grammar bible The Elements of Style by Strunk & White,” says founder Althea Simons. “The first rule is all about the possessive singular, and making something your own, which is how I think about design and style.” For this popup store, she focused on creating a welcoming environment that visually and emotionally conveyed the values of the brand and her “rigorous attention to detail, craftsmanship and doing things the old-fashioned way.”
- All custom everything.
The store notably featured custom design elements created in collaboration with the designer’s brother, ceramic artist William Simons, and experience designers Abigail Smith Hanby and Max Lozach.
These pieces included planters for the plants in the space, custom hangars and a custom rack that, she adds, “are very simple, but interesting and cool.” She also created a large curtain to break up the space, made from the line’s signature organic cotton fabric, naturally dyed with Osage and turmeric, by Simons and Susanna Taylor, a natural dye expert.
The store also featured a huge 8×5 ft mirror, to go on the opposite side so customers could “see the shirts with that yellow background…for a fun photographic moment,” adds Simons.
- Why the experience should match the brand ethos.
“Creating this beautiful experience is the whole point. I really want to meet people. As a direct-to-consumer online brand, and because the product quality is such a big part of the brand, it’s so important for people to see and touch and experience the products,” Simons says, before emphasizing that she couldn’t wait to meet her loyal customers.
“I want to convey a level of thoughtfulness and care for the customer through everything that we make, that is really different than what exists in the marketplace right now. That’s the whole point behind making all of these custom elements and having it be really handmade and hand-crafted is to get the point across that we do that with everything, not just our clothes. It’s a point of view… so that’s the #1 message,” she adds.
- How to choose the right space.
For Grammar, accessibility was key. “I knew I wanted to be somewhere in Soho or Nolita, where people are actively shopping because I think that’s just really important for people to be in that kind of mindset rather than trying to attract people somewhere where they’re not,” says Simons.
She wanted something that felt good to her once when walked in, trusting her gut to pick up on the energy and vibes of the space. “I wanted something that I could visualize the brand being in there, so I think the fact that this space was white-box, with glass through the front…it felt very open to me.” She also noted the surroundings like New Museum, a plant store, and her favorite ice-cream shop helped make her decision easier.
- The programming.
To build out the concept further, GRAMMAR held a private dinner the night before the pop-up store opening, “giving people that are already familiar with the brand a special experience and first access to the clothes.” Simons also held a press breakfast the next morning, giving them early access to the collection before the store was officially open.