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News Retail

100 Days with Henrik Vibskov

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010, 10:56 AM / Amsterdam, Netherlands

The first thing that strikes you about Henrik Vibskov is that he is a man who wears many hats. Since graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2001, the young Dane has made a name for himself as a fashion designer, musician and artist. His equal passion for all three creative pursuits is reflected in his mesmerising sensory and multi-disciplinary catwalk shows. Described as a creator of “twisted” universes, his collections bear fantastical names such as The Solar Donkey Experiment, Human Laundry Service and Big Wet Shiny Boobies.

Vibskov’s latest project is the launch of a new retail concept called 100 Days. On the 9th of December, the designer launched a travelling pop-up shop at SPRSPACE in Amsterdam that will tour around the world, existing for 100 days per season, per city. The aim of the itinerant store is to promote the designer’s latest collection, with each store reflecting the theme of the most recent catwalk show. "Inspired by all the travelling, and by not committing to a long term lease, we are free to experiment with spaces and installations and present the full collection – including show-pieces, one-offs and pieces that were edited out of the collection before the show," says Vibskov.

SPRSPACE, the first venue to host 100 Days, is part of the Dutch multi-brand upscale boutique, SPRMARKT – a concept store known for its leading international high-end brands, stocking Henrik Vibskov and other prominent Scandinavian labels. The converted supermarket provided the ad-hoc space for the project, and is Vibskov’s partner for the Amsterdam leg of the tour.

The temporary space displays the universe of Vibskov’s latest collection, The Last Pier Pandemonium. Set in a post-apocalyptic, aquatic world along a dark wooden pier, the collection features a mix of conceptual design and well-tailored prêt-à-porter pieces. The eponymous line offers everything from military jackets for the army of the lost paradise to contemporary knitwear, including rainbow-striped dresses and leopard leggings with orange fringing. The store will also sell a range of accessories such as scarves, belts, hats, socks and sandals.

Like his catwalk shows, Vibskov’s pop-up stores are expected to feel more like an art installation than a conventional fashion boutique. The show's installation has been deconstructed and redesigned to fit the temporary retail space, allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere of eccentricity and extravagance that makes his shows the highlight of Copenhagen Fashion Week. The Last Pier Pandemonium was also showcased at Milan Women's Week and Paris Men's Week.

One of the main benefits of the travelling store is that it enables the company to explore the market in a particular city at a relatively low cost. The short leases place less of a burden on capital and retail knowledge gathered in one location can be used in the next city. The pop-up shop tour is a great way to expand the company’s customer base, which is crucial for expanding the brand.

Traditionally, the opening of a new pop-up store has always been a closely guarded secret. Neither the designer nor his PR agency were willing to divulge any information on the other cities scheduled for the 100 Days project in advance. Those dreaming of a Vibskov pop-up shop in their town will have to wait until March 2011 for the next announcement about the next cities of the tour.

Vibskov’s new retail strategy comes at a time when his collections are seen as becoming increasingly wearable. With each successive collection, the charismatic Dane appears to be edging closer to finding the optimal balance between the conceptual and ready-to-wear fashion. His success constantly wrong-foots his critics by demonstrating that avant-garde design still has commercial appeal. The Last Pier Pandemonium is considered by critics as his most wearable collection to date.

But unconventional as ever, Vibskov does not see fashion through the eyes of an entrepreneur, nor does he feel the need to follow the business strategy of the more established fashion houses in order to achieve success. “To break out, you can try the institutional path – making trendy clothes, marketing and advertising. Or else you can try to get people to talk about you,” he told Vogue Italia. "I usually never even make a press kit. I don't like to tell people what they should think."

For a man who only applied to Central Saint Martins in order to impress a Danish girl who had already accepted into the prestigious fashion institute, Vibskov has done quite well for himself – including getting the girl.

Ian Morales | TribaSpace

Product Groups: Footwear, Buying, Accessories, Sales, Ready-to-Wear
Markets: Women's, Men's

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