Can Pop-Up Shops And High-End Coffee Help Dockers Shed Its Square Reputation?

The brand is trying to attract the youths, but is it going about it the right way?

Dockers, the official trouser of offices and business conferences all over the nation, are trying to become the pants you love to wear every day. In a somewhat open-ended story in this week’s Metropolitan section of The New York Times, the paper reports on the Dockers pop-up store in New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood. The brand is fighting its stodgy business-casual look in favor of one that will better appeal to a younger, fresher customer. Nobody, not even dad, wants to wear boring old Dockers anymore!

Where it was once the casual-but-work-friendly alternative to wearing a formal suit, Dockers are now unnecessary. Lots of companies have broadened their definition of business casual since Dockers were introduced in 1986, so much that jeans and actual personal style is acceptable all week. In the mid-1990s, sales reached a high point — $1 billion per year.

Now the brand is looking to recapture some of its glory.

That pop-up store, open until September 27 and timed to coincide with Fashion Week, features the Alphas, the pants that Dockers introduced in 2011. The pants are available in 10 colors that aren’t sold elsewhere. It’s also strategically located where there’s lots of traffic and is outfitted in the kind of industrial-meets-chic-flea-market decor that greets a lot of New York shoppers these days. Of course, it also has tons of freebies — fancy coffee anyone? — to sweeten the pot.

According to the article, Dockers already had a mobile store equipped with free hair cuts visit Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia for three weeks each. For that, they organized a partnership with GQ .

But aside from that, there are no details about how successful the campaign has been, or how they’re even measuring success. The only thing the Times says is that “exposure” was the goal.

One could argue the campaign is a success since the brand scored that GQ partnership, a story in the NYT, and who knows how many visitors to the different temporary shops. But ultimately, the aim is to rebrand for the long haul.

A pop-up store and a mobile shop quickly become gimmicks if you don’t have something more to build upon and clear measurements to even know where you’re building from. It could be that Dockers is playing their cards close to their chest. If that’s the case, we’ll see what Dockers has up its pant leg come September 28.