Remember when being a commit-phobe was a bad thing? I can remember vilifying more than one man in my past who, under all circumstances, absolutely refused to “commit” to just about anything (you know who you are). However, it could be argued that this winter in Aspen has worked wonders to erase that stigma. It has—perhaps even more than previous years—been the Winter of The Pop-Up, retail’s answer to commitment phobia in which stores come to town for a few months during the high season, only to disappear when the snow becomes slushy and the hordes of fur-wearing crowds begin to thin. Sure, this is a controversial business model, especially considering how many of town’s permanent stores need those crowds and that high-season business to survive, but at the same time, there is nothing worse than an empty storefront on a highly trafficked street. So is a short-term business better than no business? I’m not here to weigh in on the politics of this particular issue, but I would be remiss, as a fashion enthusiast, not to comment on how exciting this year has been for pop-ups in Aspen. There is something to be said about brands coming in, making a splash and then going away, leaving a memorable imprint that makes you miss them (sort of like those aforementioned exes of mine).
So, put aside for a moment where you stand on the issue of pop-ups and instead take a stroll with me through the streets of Aspen this winter, where the pop-up has reigned supreme, bringing everything from luxury to wellness to Instagrammable luggage to our mountain town’s downtown core.
There was, of course, the luxury-boutique-opening-heard-round-the-country when Chanel popped up in early December with its stunning, alpine-inspired fall/winter collection. Initially planning to only stay open through MLK Weekend, the store’s success and consistent crowds led the Paris-based brand to close its doors for a few weeks and then reopen, extending its run through this upcoming Presidents’ Weekend. Two doors down from Chanel is Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, where you can find items from their in-house fashion brand G. Label, as well as endless clean beauty products, home goods and fine jewelry. (Technically, this isn’t Goop’s first rodeo in Aspen. The store popped up in the same space a few summers ago.) The pop-up business must be good for GP, because rumor has it they may return to the space this summer after closing at the end of March. Can we still call it a pop-up if it does?
But wait, we’re not done yet, and we haven’t even left the Cooper Avenue Mall. If you walk out of Goop and turn left, you’ll find yourself at Max Bone, the high-end doggie heaven where graphic sweaters, CBD products and even insulated puffers for pups are all the rage. They’re here through March as of now. This winter has also seen a temporary Christian Louboutin store added to Aspen’s retail scene. All of those red soles are set to strut on out of town at the end of winter, as is the Hublot store. Apparently, the high-end Swiss watch brand doesn’t have time for off-season.
And while it isn’t a fashion pop-up, Aspen’s latest and greatest scene for après action has come via The Snow Lodge pop-up at the base of the mountain, care of the same team behind Montauk’s Surf Lodge. So now even our post-skiing entertainment is fleeting? It’s almost too much for this creature of habit to take. Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said for a temporary, hotter-than-hot scene that you know has an expiration date—somehow, that seems to add to the fun. (Longtime locals will recall with much affection the summer of Sunsets, a very short-lived bar pop-up in the space now occupied by Wild Fig. It was a glorious, glorious summer. Just ask anyone who lived through it.) But still, I want to be able to rely on my favorite spots to be there for me when I need them. Ah, the conundrum.
And then this week, in the MOST fleeting of all of winter’s pop-ups comes the Away Chalet, open for a brisk six days (blink and you’ll miss it) in the same spot that was occupied by LA-based basics brand Madhappy for a mere two weeks this holiday season. The much-buzzed-about luggage brand is bringing its new, winter-inspired chalet collection to town, giving Aspenites a first peek and the ability to shop the about-to-launch travel must-haves, which will be showcased among the brand’s signature pieces. The ensuing days (Feb. 14-16) bring an oxygen bar to the space, as well as après activations throughout the weekend from 3-6 p.m., featuring light bites, libations and a DJ. In the market for an Away suitcase? During après hours, there will be free personalization on-site for those who make a purchase a polycarbonate style so you can make sure your luggage never gets confused at baggage claim again.
So, there you have it. It turns out handsome ski bums aren’t the only ones who don’t want to commit in Aspen anymore. The sentiment has even trickled down to our business community. Like it or not, the pop-up culture doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so my suggestion is to enjoy these brands much like I did the ski bums of my past. Have a good time with them and enjoy what they bring to your life until they inevitably go away, leaving you with nothing more than memories and more than likely a few extra charges on your credit card.
Sari Anne Tuschman has too many clothes and a lot to say. She can be reached at email@example.com.