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Playboy facade
Image source: Playboy

Playboy’s Century City Pop-up Marks Yet Another Step in the Brand’s Renaissance

Playboy’s first pop-up store opened in Los Angeles’ Century City Mall on October 14. The store, expected to remain open through Valentine’s Day 2023, features the brand’s own merchandise alongside products from collaborations with over ten retailers and brands. In addition to product, the store displays memorabilia as a nod to the brand’s at times controversial history. Playboy’s inaugural brick-and-mortar experience offers a promising avenue for the brand to reposition itself as both empowering and trend-forward as they look to attract a younger customer base.

Playboy’s Pop-up Features Owned Merchandise, Brand Collaborations, Memorabilia

Playboy’s 2,300 square-foot pop up store carries apparel and accessories for all genders. Alongside pieces from Playboy’s owned and operated brand, the store will carry merchandise from brand collaborations from brands and retailers like Pac Sun, DUKE + DEXTER, and Lids. Notably, the brand’s iconic Playboy bunny costume will be for sale in store, just in time for the Halloween festivities.

Playboy merchandise

Image source: Playboy

At the back of the store, Playboy created an experiential vignette where customers can take selfies. A lounge area functions as a space for customers to relax and for the store to host events with content creators.

Playboy’s leadership highlighted that the Century City outpost is a test to evaluate how a traditional mall-based store location performs for the brand. In addition to the mall-based concept, Playboy plans to open a network of standalone brick-and-mortar stores in high-volume markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Texas, and Florida.

magazine cover collages

Image source: Playboy

Beyond merchandise, the store’s décor serves as an homage to the brand’s nearly 70-year history. Magazine cover collages, vintage t-shirts, and graphics serve as a nostalgic nod to the brand’s print magazine past.

The Brick-and-mortar Experience is a Critical Step in Reimagining the Playboy Brand

Despite its controversial past, Playboy is repositioning itself as expressive and diverse to attract and retain a younger customer base. The brand has reinvigorated its original mission to promote sexual liberation and freedom of expression, but recontextualized this messaging to be relevant and inclusive of all its customers. Playboy’s brick-and-mortar presence exemplifies this ‘New Playboy’ experience:

  • Prioritizing digital investment: Beyond its online publication (Playboy ceased operations of its print magazine in March 2020, now operating as an online-only publication), Playboy sells its merchandise through its e-commerce website, The brand also released an online platform, Centerfold, which allows content creators to interact directly with fans and paid subscribers. The result is a multi-faceted online experience, where customers can shop, read, and explore all under the broader Playboy brand umbrella.
  • Attracting a younger customer: Playboy’s budding omnichannel experience is a prime candidate to attract younger customers, particularly Gen Z, as its digital presence offers an avenue for customers to discover the Playboy brand online, and ultimately engage with the brand in-store. Playboy’s current sales exemplify the brand’s success at tapping into a younger customer base — customers under 34 make up 2/3 of Playboy’s revenue, predominantly purchasing merchandise online from
  • Leaning into brand collaborations: Playboy successfully identified synergies among its customer base and target brand partners. The company has co-created products with over 10 different brands and retailers, with products ranging from denim, to loafers, to lingerie. Brand partnerships offer cross-promotional opportunities for Playboy, allowing target customers to “rediscover” the brand as it has realigned its values to resonate with younger shoppers.
Playboy bunny costume

Image source: Playboy

Playboy has had significant hurdles to overcome to reimagine a brand experience for the customer of the present and future. We can look to other brands, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret, that are also no strangers to controversy but have, to varying degrees, managed to reinvent themselves to adapt to a new generation of consumers. In a similar manner, through social listening, a digital-first strategy and leveraging brand collaborations, Playboy has effectively cultivated a nostalgic, yet forward-thinking and inclusive experience to appeal to the minds and hearts of its new customer. If you’re a brand or retailer looking to create a compelling in-store experience or reposition your brand, contact us.

Reagan Jacobs

Reagan provides research, planning and analysis support for McMillanDoolittle retail consulting projects. She supports company and client projects through consumer research planning, merchandise and operations analysis, financial modeling and graphic design work.

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