by Christine Donnelly

At the Holt Renfrew Pop Up store at 560 King Street West, there is an inexplicable emphasis on the androgyny of the collection.

Barbara Atkin, Vice President of Fashion Direction for Holt Renfrew is making a point with a silver sequined beret, “…if this (silver sequined beret) speaks to a guy – then good for him!” She says naturally, wagging the hat for emphasis, “Who says this (silver sequined beret) is just for a woman?”

“It’s a big trend right now!” explained Jackie Charest the VP of Pop Up, “If you see something you like, you share it with your girlfriend… with your boyfriend… the response has been amazing!”

The gender identity of fancy hats aside, this 5-day-only, transient storefront is indeed on the vanguard of retail trends. Never before has a venerable brand like Holts tried its hand at this concept… well, not in Toronto anyway. A low-cost marketing tool that got its start in New York, the Pop Up store allows Holts to try on the King West neighbourhood with very low capital expense. In turn, the fleeting nature of a temporary store is meant to create a sense of urgency for the customer and generate buzz for the brand.

Filled with checked shirts from Frank and Eileen ($215), brown and plaid boots from Yuketen ($625), comfy Philip Sparks sweaters ($575) and a perfect Alexander Wang tank top ($110 – that’s for me), the vibe of the small shop is laid back and casual, a kind of cozy Canadiana; even though a Gucci fanny pack ($540) is the item closest to the store’s fake fireplace.

So will the King Street set leave their chocolate brown and stainless steel condos to sample products that range from $17 lip balm to $1,845 Balenciaga handbags?

They have 5 days.

The Holt Renfrew Pop Up store is open from Wednesday, December 2 – Sunday, December 6.