‘The new home for fashion designers’
Posted On July 1, 2021
In the latest wave of high-fashion retailers to open up shop in Australia, designer department stores are being built across the country.
The trend of designer retail is on the rise, with more than 1,400 retailers opening shop in the past year, including Urban Outfitters, Louis Vuitton and Calvin Klein, as well as fashion houses including Burberry, Givenchy, Gucci, Tom Ford and Zara.
This week, Urban Outlet opened its first boutique in Sydney, and there are plans to open more across the nation, including a store in Melbourne’s CBD.
There is a growing awareness of the fashion world in Australia – the country’s fashion magazines are now the most read in the world – and some of the retailers are doing more to cater to a growing niche audience.
“We’ve been doing the same thing we have been doing for years, but we’ve got a really strong presence in the fashion industry in Australia,” said Andrew Pritchard, president of Urban Outlets, which is owned by the Prudential Group.
“There’s a huge crossover of people between the fashion and design worlds, and that’s what we want to do.”
Prithew said he was happy with the trend, but that “it doesn’t feel right” in the mainstream market.
“When we’re talking about big brands that are taking a big slice of the pie, they can’t do it, it feels like we’ve taken that slice of pie and taken it to the level of luxury.”
“But it’s not a luxury product, it’s just a way to make a little bit of money for us.”
One of the main selling points for Prithews department store is the proximity to the major metropolitan centres.
“It’s right on the freeway,” he said.
“If you’re going to go anywhere, you want to be able to come here and be in a mall.
It’s a little better than going to the mall.”
The stores are set up on a similar scale to the stores that opened in the UK and US in the 1980s and 1990s, where designer boutiques opened on a small scale, with one store in a strip mall and another in a high-rise.
In Australia, the trend is gaining momentum as more retailers, especially fashion houses, open up their stores in malls, while smaller brands are being allowed to operate independently.
“A lot of them are doing it for the sake of the brand, and it’s a lot easier to do that in a big city like Sydney,” Mr Pritborough said.
It is the first time a designer department store has been built in Australia.
Pritwich said that the number of designers in the country was growing, with the number expected to reach more than 10,000 by 2019.
“The brand is doing so well and it doesn’t take a lot of money to create a quality product,” he added.
“But if you’re not going to do it at a big brand, you’re just taking a slice of it.”
But Mr Pregons fears that this trend could change the retail landscape in Australia and the fashion landscape in general.
“Designer retail is a very niche market and it will always be a niche market, it just takes a lot more money to do so, and if you get a little more power, you can do it more cheaply and with more confidence,” he warned.
People have been looking for the next big thing in the last 30 years and it just doesn’t seem to be happening in Australia anymore.”