The pop-up, it seems, is the most fashionable way of garnering a new audience for a brand. A few weeks ago, Hermès popped-up in East London - hardly the place you expect to see a proliferation of its signature orange carriers or neatly-tied scarves - and, in a neat echo, on Monday French trainer brand Feiyue 'popped' at London's Selfridges (in fittingly French style, accompanied by a baroque banquet of brie and Bordeaux).
A cult name in France since its launch in 2006, Feiyue (pronounced Feî-ué) has its roots in 1920s Shanghai. Patrice Bastian, the label's founder, found the soft, unstructured canvas sneakers when travelling in Asia - he loved them so much, he ended up buying the brand. 'I was a sneaker addict for many years - in every country I visited I used to buy their native sneakers, and when I lived in Shanghai I had a big crush on these shoes.' Evidently Bastian's taste is in synch with the times - the label now boasts the likes of Orlando Bloom and Lily Cole as fans.
In Bastian's eyes, Feiyue is more than a sneaker brand - thus collaboration with edgy artists and musicians, something Bastian feels emerges from the anti-corporate, creative background of the label's owners. 'It's always good to work with other people because they help to reinvent the sneaker - it's something that feeds us, and feeds the brand'. Sometimes, those ideas can come from the fashion establishment - French luxury stalwart Celine put their name to a Feiyue sneaker (in a first for the house, rather democratically priced), and the very idea of the label 'popping' in Selfridges, a bastion of British luxury retailing if ever there was one, shows an interesting integration between sneakers and style.
That said, the in-store space itself is far from establishment. Selfridges' theme for the Christmas period is "play," and Bastian said 'that made us at Feiyue think about building blocks and interactivity, and the idea of the ipad - giving customers the opportunity to create their own shoes.' Thus a custom ipad app has been developed especially for the shoe's first appearance this side of la manche, giving customers the chance to create their own unique design - and offering one lucky sneaker-freak the chance of having their shoe made up at the end of the period.