Inside By The Namesake’s pop-up strategy

For starters, the DTC company’s leather jackets are primarily made-to-order, so it doesn’t carry inventory in its temporary space.
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By The Namesake

· 4 min read

By The Namesake, a DTC custom-leather-jacket brand, recently made its return to the US with a two-week pop-up in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood. And the Canadian company will be back soon. With another pop-up.

The new space, set to open in March, will be its fourth pop-up in New York. It’s already signed on for a fifth in September, By The Namesake owner Rosa Halpern told Retail Brew.

“Each time we’re coming for a bit longer. So we used to do a week, then we did two weeks. Now we’re doing three weeks, and hopefully in September, we will be there for a month,” she said.

  • The brand also plans to venture north next month with a new location on the Upper East Side.

Space out: Pop-ups are an integral part of By The Namesake’s business model, Halpern explained. (That’s true for other brands, too.) For starters, its leather jackets are primarily made-to-order, so the company doesn’t carry inventory in the temporary space. Secondly, customers will often want to be measured in person before making a purchase—you don’t need a huge space to do that, Halpern said.

The company, founded in 2016, built toward the strategy, opening pop-ups in cities like Nashville. In September (aka leather weather) of 2019, it started to experiment with new, month-long spaces in different cities—Los Angeles and Chicago, for example—until the pandemic hit.

“We actually noticed that people were coming to New York expressly to shop,” Halpern said. “That gave us pause and made us realize, rather than going to three different cities, let’s just go to New York for longer next time.”

  • The city accounts for 80% of By The Namesake’s online sales.
  • And: Its pop-ups in New York have brought in 6x more sales than other locations the company has popped up in. Roughly 15%–20% of annual sales can be attributed to a two-week pop-up in Nolita, according to Halpern.

Right place, right time: But everyone knows that one major drawback to NYC is the high rent. Furnishing and decorating a high-end Nolita store—that doesn’t carry any inventory—can also be expensive. That’s exactly why Halpern said the proposition of a smaller pop-up location makes more sense for the brand rather than signing a long-term lease in NYC.

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She did acknowledge, too, that high residential rents in the area mean “people who are living there, noticing a new pop-up, definitely can afford our product because our product is definitely at a luxury price point.” (Halpern told us, on average, a sale goes for about $1,500.)

The pop-up model also lets By The Namesake plan when it will be open, whether during Fashion Week or the busy holiday season. “A 12-months-of-the-year storefront just isn’t feasible,” Halpern said. “We can time when we want to be there based on the best week of the year to really capitalize.”

We’re open (for now)

Operating the pop-up itself does come with challenges, though. For example, Halpern said, when the brand first enters a new city, it likes to “pop-up within an existing boutique” to get a sense of consumer behaviors and patterns. “The way people shop in Nashville is totally different from the way people shop in New York,” she noted.

All hands on deck: The company also has a dedicated staff—from IT to in-store associates that fit customers—that operates its pop-ups, Halpern explained, which she likened to a “traveling roadshow.”

“That makes it difficult, at this point, to do more than one at once,” she said.

  • That’s partly why By The Namesake is opening a pop-up on the Upper East Side: most of its employees are already in New York.

“It’s really only when we do a standalone pop-up that we need to staff it,” Halpern said. “And at this point, we just bring staff with us, which obviously gets expensive because you’re paying for accommodation, all of that good stuff.”

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.