5 Best Retailers in Upcycled Shipping Containers

We have seen shipping containers being repurposed for uses ranging from housing to hotels—so it's only logical that some forward-minded brands would choose to showcase their collections in these upcycled vessels.

The following retail brands have all chosen the versatile, mobile, and humble shipping container as a temporary or permanent outpost. Here, we take a look at our favorite inspired retail spaces. 

AETHERsf, San Francisco

Located at The Proxy in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, AETHERsf is a concept space constructed from three 40-foot shipping containers stacked on top of each other. In addition to a curated selection of design-focused outerwear, the space features a custom, glass-encased cantilevered lounge, reclaimed oak floors, and a belt-driven "dry cleaner"-style conveyor system. The store is a continuation of AETHER's design relationship with Thierry Gaugain—responsible for AETHERstream (the company's bespoke Airstream popup)—and the company's new partnership with architectural firm Envelope A+D. Chris French Metal provided all of the structural and architectural metal fabrication. 


When the online sportswear brand NEEDS&WANTS decided to launch a physical location, they chose a shipping container set in an unspecified Toronto park. To find its exact whereabouts, followers of the clothing label can sign up for a newsletter. "Existing customers will adventure to the space," says brand clothing designer Sean Brown. "Potential customers, we hope, will be intrigued."   

The experience provides customers a temporary point of access to the mostly online brand. Recent architecture graduate Marco Lee conceived the layout of the windows, which are from Glasshaus Living.

The interior is warmed by parquet flooring and Finium wood panels.

NEEDS&WANTS had to select furniture carefully to save room for their wares. A vintage suede sofa, imported from Lean on Rack in Belgium, sits beside an adaptable Offi Mag table. Brand clothing designer Sean Brown notes that, due to the showroom's limited size and accessibility.

Richard Chai 

This shipping container retail popup is a partnership between fashion designer Richard Chai and the design firm Snarkitecture. Tucked underneath the High Line in New York City for 10 days in October 2010, it brought the humble shipping container to new levels of cool. 

Puma City 

LOT-EK retrofitted 24 shipping containers to create PUMA City, a transportable retail and event building. With 11,000 square feet of space, the three-level stack of containers was then assembled and disassembled at several different locations, creating a truly mobile retail experience. By offsetting the individual containers, they were able to create internal outdoor spaces, cantilevered overhangs, and terraces. The structure also featured two full retail spaces on the lower levels, both designed with large, double-height ceilings and a 4-container-wide open spaces. Offices, a press area, and storage were located on the second level, with a bar, event space, and a large open terrace at the top. 

Photography: Danny Bright

Photography: Danny Bright

Photography: Danny Bright

Uniqlo Popups 

When the beloved Japanese brand Uniqlo launched in the United States back in 2006, they employed LOT-EK to design two 20-foot containers to tour New York City as retail shops—introducing the brand to the nation. The branded pop-up stores were mobile and fully equipped with shelving space, fitting rooms, and a cash register. 

Photography: Danny Bright

Photography: Danny Bright

Photography: Danny Bright


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