First Look: Esprit opens pop-up store amid brand's U.S. comeback

Marianne Wilson
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A fashion brand that defined California cool in the ’80s continues its return to the U.S. retail scene.

Esprit has opened a long-term pop-up in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The colorful 3,000-sq.-ft. space taps into the brand’s playful heritage, combining Memphis Design terrazzo patterns, vintage items and archival catalogs, along with new campaign imagery. The archival materials pay homage to the origins of Esprit’s playful aesthetic.

The merchandise assortment includes a mix of Esprit’s new summer styles and vintage pieces, connecting the brand's history of design and fashion innovation with the vision of where it is heading, the company said.  Shoppers can personalize their purchases at a dedicated customization station in the store.

The new pop-up is part of Esprit’s U.S. comeback, which it detailed earlier this year. The company returned to the U.S. in fall 2022 with a pop-up in Los Angeles, which marked its first U.S. physical store since it closed its 92 remaining U.S. stores in 2012. (The brand once had more than 200 U.S. stores and was a mall staple.)

  Esprit will open another short-term temporary space in Los Angeles this summer, at The Grove.  Permanent retail locations are planned to open in New York City, Los Angeles, and Vancouver in late 2023.

"Opening the Greene Street pop-up is the next step to solidifying Esprit's reintroduction to the North American market; allowing shoppers to fully immerse themselves into the world of Esprit past and present," said William Pak, CEO of Esprit. "This experiential retail space in Soho, one of the most iconic and exhilarating neighborhoods in the world, will allow customers to experience Esprit’s brand pillars — playful, modern, cool — in a dynamic environment that will evolve in theme each month."

Esprit was founded in 1969 by Doug and Susie Tompkins (who previously founded The North Face) and Jane Tise. In 1996, they sold their interest to their Hong Kong partner and the company’s headquarters moved from San Francisco to overseas. 

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed company currently operates about 160 retail stores, with an additional 450 franchise partner stores worldwide.

Esprit is set to officially relaunch globally in fall 2023 with a focus on modernizing its brand heritage and values for today's consumer.  

Esprit has a presence in more than 30 markets around the world and has been listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 1993.  Design and creative is led out of New York as the brand's global creative hub.  Amsterdam supports the network with its focus on technology and denim innovation, while Hong Kong remains as the global administrative headquarters.