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Kate Spade to open Paris flagship

Kate Spade, in an effort to expand its strategy in Europe, will be jet setting off to Paris. This summer, the U.S. based brand will be opening a 2000-square-foot store on the Rue Saint-Honoré. The store will carry their handbags, ready-to-wear, accessories, watches, jewelry, shoes and eyewear.

Europe has been a major target market for the brand. Last year, they opened a store in London on Regent Street. In France they currently only have retail presence in Galeries Lafayette and online.

The new store will feature furniture from the Kate Spade home collection as part of the decor, and its storefront will be inspired by traditional Parisian façade.

Kate Spade opening store on Rue Saint-Honoré

In honor of the opening, the brand will also design a clutch bag based on the French flag.

Kate Spade's growth in Europe will help make it more attractive to potential buyers. The brand is still on the market for a buyer, with Coach being the top contender for adding the brand to their portfolio. As Coach takes more of a focus towards millennials, Kate Spade would be a welcome addition to their company given their popularity among that demographic. Coach has also proven they know how to turn a brand around and generate a profit.

Several years ago the brand was struggling and facing store closures. Now they are considered one of New York's coolest brands, in part due to their creative director Stuart Vevers, who helped grow their ready-to-wear business. After acquiring Stuart Weitzman, Kate Spade would be a smart next project for the them.

photo: via Kate Spade Facebook
Brandlab signs over 200 brands

London - BrandLab, a new innovative online platform for wholesale fashion has already signed over 200 brands varying from emerging brands to large international labels, underlining the need for a revolutionary platform in the industry.

With up to 15 new brands signing on each week, BrandLab is seen as one of the fastest growing online wholesale platforms.The new wholesale platform, which is free for brands to join, helps fashion brands boost their sales by giving them direct access to thousands of global buyers. BrandLab also provides brands with the right tools to take professional photographs and videos of their collections and helps in creating personalised marketing content on social media.

Brandlab signs over 200 brands

BrandLab also offers brands the opportunity to have their products featured in live catwalk shows which are broadcast on the first streaming wholesale buying channel, BrandLab TV. This free streaming service lets buyers see how each garment looks like when worn and offers them the chance to purchase said looks directly from the shows. The wholesale platform is designed to streamline the buying experience as it also includes an integrated payment system. After buyers sign up for free they are able to browse through the entire fashion inventory and order their favourite clothes and accessories from different brands with one simple payment.

“Through a huge technology investment, our unique platform provides a robust solution to many of the age-old problems in wholesale fashion” said CEO Jennifer Drury. “Wholesale fashion is changing, and for many years, it’s been clear that a solution was needed for issues in the wholesale market." BrandLab aims to sign an additional 500 brands within the next nine months.

Photos: COurtesy of BrandLab

Elin Kling, founder and CEO of Totême, has opened a new store concept in connection with her design studio at Tegnergatan 37 in Stockholm.

On May 18, customers will have the opportunity to visit the brand's central location, try out garments, shop and interact with the team behind the creation. Shoppers will also be able to pre-order upcoming collections on site.

"To visit Totême's studio is like stepping into our Instagram feed in real life and we need our customer's help to communicate our message," said Kling. "We are at the beginning of our trip and it gives us an exciting opportunity to try out."

The newly renovated space is one-half design and production and one-half showroom. Although Toteme does not hold any stock in the studio, anything ordered is delivered within 24 hours to a customer's home or office.

The studio space features a "self-friendly" test cabin adorned with Kling's own moodboards and accessories to serve as an inspiration for how to style garments from the collection. Sweden is getting its little bit of New York City fashion.

Knot Standard opens pop-up in London

Knot Standard, the fastest growing menswear company in the US, has opened its first concept pop-up store in London as it looks to introduce its custom tailoring to the UK.

Open until May 8, the pop-up on Soho Square marks the brand’s first physical store expansion into Europe and allows customers to create custom garments with the assistance of Knot Standard stylists.

In-store, customers can create custom garments including suits, shirts, blazers and luxury casual items from fabrics supplied from mills including Loro Piana, Dormeuil, and Ariston. Customers select the fabric options both physically and digitally through Knot Standard’s virtual studio imagery, which also operates at the brand’s concept store in Bloomingdale’s flagship in New York City that opened last November.

Knot Standard was founded in 2010 by John Ballay and Matt Mueller and utilises modern technology with classic tailoring and stylists to create luxury custom garments. The brand currently has eight showrooms in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Houston, Dallas Austin, and Dubai, as well as a shop-in-shop at Bloomingdale’s and an online studio.

"We founded Knot Standard to meet the needs of the modern customer. As the retail world changes, more customers want to purchase custom in a new way: in-store, online, and with the flexibility to influence and create their own style,” explains chief executive, John Ballay.

Knot Standard will be open until May 8 at 2 Soho Square in London.

Image: courtesy of Knot Standard

How brands can leverage peer reviews

Peer to peer reviews are becoming increasingly important for both online and offline retailers.

First impressions can make or break a brand's relationship with potential customers and research shows 86 percent of consumers will not buy products or services from negative reviews, whereas customers will spend 31 percent more when businesses have excellent reviews.

New research from brand management platform Chatmeter shows relying on word-of-mouth to drive customers into a business is the single most influential factor influencing which stores consumers visit. In the digital age, word-of-mouth has taken the form of online reviews with 84 percent of people trusting online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.

Online reviews are easily accessible

According to Chatmeter, the reason online reviews have become so influential on the consumer decision making process is because they are so easily accessible and provide the social proof consumers desire. Consumers can easily compare reviews for multiple businesses enabling them to make more confident decisions.

Consumers are also more likely to consult reviews if they’re purchasing a product from an unknown brand, says Trustpilot, or to assess quality if the product is new to market. Reviews also matter more if a consumer feels the purchase is expensive.

While negative reviews can have some pretty severe consequences on a business, they are also some of the most valuable and important feedback that companies receive. Retailers can use these negative reviews to their advantage to help improve their business as a whole.

It is key for retailers to respond to every review, both positive and negative. First, it shows search engines the brand is constantly active and engaging with customers and therefore worth recommending to searchers. Additionally, responding to reviews shows both the reviewer and searchers looking at reviews the brand cares about customer feedback and is listening to what they have to say.

Positive reviews are valuable assets

Reviews are one of the most valuable assets companies have in today’s marketplace. A Brand with a powerful online reputation and an abundance of positive reviews is not an easy goal to achieve, but those who do will reap the benefits.

Chatmeter helps retailers make a distinct impact in revenue by identifying several areas in their online presence that drives customers to choose their stores over competitors.

Photo credit: Peer review

Zalando considers opening stores in London, Berlin & Paris

London - Imagine walking into a Zalando brick and mortar store in London, or Berlin or Paris and being able to touch and see their fashion offering in person. This thought may just become a reality in the not so distance future as the online giant is currently pondering on opening flagship stores in a number of key cities.

"We have proper fans in the metropolises who spend much time with us and order a lot. It could be interesting for them to also experience the brand offline," said Rubin Ritter, co-chief executive and member of the board at Zalando to German publication Manager Magazin. Although the idea of opening a series of brand stores is still in early stages, it would not be the first physical stores Zalando would open. The German online retailer currently operates a number of outlet in Berlin, Frankfurt and Cologne.

Zalando considers opening stores in London, Berlin & Paris

Zalando mulls over opening flagship stores in London, Paris and Berlin

However the opening of flagship stores would signal a significant step in the online retailer's growth, as Zalando has been investing in expanding its presence both on and offline over the past few years. In 2015 Zalando acquired bankrupted trade show Bread & Butter and transformed the concept into a consumer-facing fashion festival, which is said to have been the company's first step in offering services outside of the online realm, according to Ritter. Zalando also acquired online retailer Kickz in March, which also runs a number of physical stores.

"Physical stores are more of an experiential world in our view, not just a source of revenue," said David Schneider in a previous interview with FashionUnited DE. "That is why we did not work with traditional stores earlier...We are moving away from a pure retail mindset, because it is not only about buying and selling products. We want to focus on becoming a platform where we bring the strengths and skills of the different parties together in a unique network. We want to give our customers the best possible shopping experience, regardless of where the products are coming from."

Zalando considers opening stores in London, Berlin & Paris

In addition to mulling over opening physical stores, Zalando is said to be looking into introducing additive manufacturing, or 3D printing for local production. Ritter notes that it would be especially beneficial for the company to use the technology to reprint best selling sneakers and items from small and medium-sized fashion brands directly in Berlin, to cut down on lead time and supplement its other logistical and fulfilment options.

Founded in Berlin, Germany in 2008 Zalando has expanded rapidly over the past years to become one of Europe's leading online retailers. At the moment Zalando offers 1,500 brands to consumers across 15 countries. In 2016 Zalando reported a 23 percent in turnover to 3.6 billion euros, driven by a 11 percent increase in customers to 20 million.

Photos: Courtesy of Zalando

​Hunkemöller eyes up UK expansion

London - Leading European lingerie brand Hunkemöller has its sights set on dominating the UK market, as the brand explores options to open a series of standalone stores across the country.

Philip Mountford, Hunkemöller's chief executive, revealed that the lingerie giant is currently considering several options to open brick and mortar store in the UK, including a potential location on London's Oxford Street. A Hunkemöller spokesperson previously revealed to FashionUnited UK that the lingerie retailer could possibly opened its own stores or concession in the UK, but noted that there were "no firm plans" in place at the time. However, now the lingerie brand hopes to open its first UK store by the end of 2018-2019, but Mountford believes that the opening could come even sooner if the right opportunity arises, as he believes Hunkemöller holds great potential in the UK.

​Hunkemöller eyes up UK expansion

Hunkemöller aims to open debut UK store by the end of 2017

"The UK is dominated by retailers like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams," said Mountford to the Daily Mail on Sunday. "We fit perfectly into the niche between M&S and Victoria’s Secret." Hunkemöller's UK push comes a few months after the lingerie brand launched its dedicated UK webstore. The Dutch brand was previously available in the UK through Hunkemöller's global e-commerce platform, but following its acquisition by the Carlyle Group in late 2015, it began its accelerated expansion scheme which sees the lingerie brand opening stores in Kuwait, Russia, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, New Zealand and Trinidad between 2016-2018.

"We’ve got 900 stores," added Mountford. "We’re about to go into Switzerland and Norway and our team is looking at London.When we find the right opportunity we will go in." Hunkemöller previously operated a concession stand in House of Fraser Oxford Street store in 2011, but eventually withdraw from the UK, opting to remain active online. At the time of Hunkemöller's dedicated UK web store opening last year, the lingerie retailer's business was increasing 53 percent annually on a like-for-like basis, as the company aims to see omni-channel sales account for 10 percent of its global sales by the end of the year.

​Hunkemöller eyes up UK expansion

Hunkemöller UK expansion strategy comes as the Dutch lingerie label aims to continue rolling out its activewear label HKMX further across Europe. Over the last two years, Hunkemöller's HKMX label has continued to grow, achieving a turnover of 20 million euros (16.9 million pounds) in 2016. Hunkemöller opened its debut HKMX flagship store in Berlin, Germany, last week as the brand aims to open another 3 stores later this year and open a total of 50 standalone HKMX stores over the next five years.

Photos: Hunkemöller flagship store in the Kalverstraat and HKMX store in Berlin.

Fenwick to close Windsor store

Independent department store Fenwick has confirmed that it is to close its Windsor store after 37 years in the town, after failing to find a new location after its lease had expired, while also adding that it is to open a new store in Bracknell that it set to open this autumn.

Chairman Mark Fenwick, said: “We have always seen Windsor as a perfect Fenwick town, where our particularly fashion orientated, specialist store offer would thrive. Unfortunately we were unable to find a suitable alternative location.”

Fenwick confirmed that consultation with employees at the Windsor store situated in King Edward Court has started and that all 40 employees would be offered alternative roles at the new 80,000 square foot store in Bracknell, which is approximately 10 miles away.

The Bracknell store, part of the Lexicon development, will create around 80 jobs, and will stock brands including Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Coach, Gant, Ralph Lauren, Max Mara, Armani and Hugo Boss, as well as a denim studio and shoe emporium. The store will also carry beauty, homewares, and toys, as well as a new restaurant concept from Fuego and bakery Mason and Rye.

The current Fenwick store in Bracknell will continue to operate as Bentalls Bracknell until the retailer transitions to the new site in the autumn.

Image: Artist impression of Bracknell Fenwick courtesy of Fenwick

Budget fashion retailer Primark is set to open its biggest UK store in December 2018 in Birmingham. The ‘megastore’ will span 160,000 square foot across four floors and will carry all of the retailer’s offering including women’s, men’s and children’s fashion, as well as footwear, accessories, lingerie, beauty and homeware.

Primark acquired the Birmingham Pavilions centre for a rumoured 60 million pounds in 2014 and its redevelopment plan to create its largest flagship store in the UK was approved in January 2016.

When the new store opens the fashion retailer will close its existing New Street store in Birmingham, however, it states that the larger store will relocate its staff as the flagship will employ around 800 people, up from 460 it currently employees.

The new Birmingham store will be slightly bigger than the chain’s current largest UK site, which is in Manchester, which spans across three floors of the former John Lewis building across to around 155,000 square foot.

The Primark opening will come just ahead of the company’s 50th anniversary, which debut in Dublin in 1969 under the Penneys name.

Why online retailers are heading to the high street

London - Online fashion retailers have set a precedence to adopt omnichannel strategies, accounting for 29.6 percent of all all online retailers taking up physical retail space in the UK.

According to global real estate service provider Savills, their latest report Retail Revolutions: From Digital to Physical shows pureplay brands are making the transition from online only to bricks and mortar retailing. These include Missguided opening its first store at Westfield in Stratford and brands Finery and Little Mistress opening concessions in department stores.

Online sales growth in the UK is expected to slow from 11.4 percent per annum between 2012 and 2016 to 4.8 percent by 2022. Howe ver, the firm states that it is not a case of online versus offline, but rather how the two platforms can work together to provide the best ‘total’ retail experience.

Consumer preferences at the core of retailing retailers

Marie Hickey, commercial research director at Savills, comments: “When it comes to fashion and homeware, the biggest driver of total retailing continues to be consumer preferences. In particular, the desire to touch and feel a product before purchase remains strong, meaning physical stores play an important role in driving both online and offline sales. Stores can also deliver convenience to customers, a key attraction of shopping online, in the form of click and collect services.”

True digitisation of experience will now be at the forefront of store evolution, says Savills, which to date has centred largely on hardware, such as providing iPads to allow shoppers to search for products online. The evolving focus is on creating integrated software solutions, which can provide the same personalised shopper experience in-store that consumers have become accustomed to online, and enhance the speed and ease of payment.

While the transition into physical retailing is positive news for the property sector, Savills also says that retailers are becoming more selective and measured in the size and location of their stores, which is likely to result in a strategic focus on major retail centres. For some, including Made.com and Sofa.com, stores are not only a way of selling products but an opportunity to showcase and promote the brand in key urban locations, giving them the greatest possible exposure.

Evolving store experiences will be digitized

Sean Gillies, head of UK retail at Savills, adds: “Despite increasing recognition of a physical store’s role in raising brand awareness and revenues, this is unlikely to lead to a flurry of national requirements from pureplay retailers making the transition to bricks and mortar. The most significant impact on retail property will instead come from digitisation of the in-store experience, as mobile payment, customer recognition technology, live inventory tracking and monitoring shopper engagement with products become the norm. The concept of stores remains very much alive and well, though their appearance and the activities that take place within them will continue to evolve.”

Credits: Photo; Savills, source: Savills report: Retail Revolutions, From Digital to Physical