Top tips for navigating the fashion retail property market


By Lee Trevena, CEO, LeaseEagle

Fashion by its very nature is new and exciting. For many customers it is an experience, perhaps an escape or an opportunity to be unique.

If you are into fashion retailing your boutique is your studio, your runway, your gallery – it is also a place for your clients to indulge into their own world of fantasy and glamour.

Can you marry this experience with a 4 x 15 ‘shop in a box’?

Fashion design and property are not the obvious pairing but for retailers, property is as ubiquitous to the business as it gets. It’s as much about experience as function, as much about marketing as it is cost.

To not see property so deeply is akin to letting your client carry out your latest design in a plastic bag!

Window-ShoppingYour shop is the extension of your brand as well as a functional delivery point of your business. What does your brand represent? How do my clients want to shop? How do I want to showcase my creations?

The latest in-store trend in high-end luxury brand retailing is ‘gallery retailing’ where you see little or no stock. Retailing here is a personal experience in beautiful surrounds and is exclusive. The retail environment is a pure reflection of how they answer those three questions.

Creating this experience is not purely about fit-out; a fashion boutique’s best ‘fittings’ is usually its own creations. Ever heard the term window-shopping? Most sales start outside your shop and this is where engaging your next client begins.

Many small retailers try to compete head-to-head on location with big brand or chains for whom property is purely about distribution – selling more, more efficiently. Does this strategy seem right for a fashion boutique?

As an extension of creating the right environment consider your location is as much a part of your marketing budget, than your fixed overheads.

How do people find me? How do I want them to see me? When do I want to them to see me?

Creating traffic flow can be really expensive – go ‘prime’ in Chapel Street and pay $2,000+ a week. You can succeed, but it’s a big bet and the majority of your investment will go to paying the Landlord.

What if you had a location for $1,000 a week and spent the other $50,000 to market and invest in your own brand? And if times are tough it’s cheaper and easier to turn off marketing than rental costs.


If you do see your retail property in this way then first you must have others see it too. Your converts must then include the landlord and their agent and as money hungry or conniving as stories may depict them, three key factors will design their view of you as a ‘business partner’;

1. Firstly, the emotional. Everyone in retail property is ‘entrepreneurial’ and will see you the same way. They want to hear the back story, the inspiration behind the idea and tell their friends they are “dealing with this exciting new fashion label”. You need them to buy in to your story and a few gift vouchers for them to take home could be the smartest marketing you ever do.

2. Next, the business. No matter how good your story is, this is business and the quality of your business will be judged on how you engage. If you are the creative side then find your business side – consultant, friend, partner, accountant or lawyer, to help show that your business knows what it’s doing. Inspired they may already be but fear and fools they can smell a mile.

3. Finally, the investment. Fashion retail, particularly at this time, can be seen as financially risky and your shop could well be that landlord’s signature investment. The flipside is that the right brand creates an icon to increase the value of their asset and fashion retailers represent the smallest risk of property damage or re-letting costs.

Property for all retailers is a crucial element in their business model. For fashion and boutiques it is little about high volumes and operating efficiencies but about the experience and presence of what is being created. So before you even begin to negotiate, aligning your property strategy with your business strategy will be critical for both you and your customers.

LeeTBook Now to see Lee present `Finding the perfect shop for your business’ at Fashion Exposed

Lee Trevena is the CEO of LeaseEagle, a property management software solution that removes all the headaches typically associated with managing retail leases. Developed locally but used globally by hundreds of leading brands, LeaseEagle automates complex reporting processes, tracks critical lease deadlines and centralises data management. It saves retailers time and money.

Lee has more than 20 years experience working with high profile retail chains across Australia, New Zealand, US and Asia. He is based in Melbourne and his customers include NONI B, SpecSavers, Lorna Jane and Cotton On.

Overview of seminar

In the age of online retailing, the importance of finding the right shop location has faded. More than just a space to sell your garments, it’s a physical version of your brand. For fashion boutiques, it’s often your greatest merchandising asset.

In this presentation, retail real estate expert, Lee Trevena, will start you on the path to finding and leasing the perfect shop for your business.

For more information or to register, visit fashionexposed.com

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