Seven years after converting 100sqm blank zones within shopping centres throughout Sydney and Melbourne into retail spaces for emerging fashion designers to showcase their products, 100 Squared has now opened a permanent store near Bondi Beach, dubbed ‘And Now This’.
The company’s founder and director, Justin Levy, told Inside Retail that the goal of the permanent space at Bondi was to help new brands establish, trial and grow their retail channel.
“At the moment our 100 Squared locations are over subscribed, as we have more designers applying for our spaces than space available for rent,” he said.
Amid the currently volatile market conditions for apparel retailers, Levy said the initaitve allowed new brands to “try before they buy option,” to get a taste of what retailing might offer for their business.
And Now This is a flexible space, with the potential for new brands to retail for one, three and six month terms. The length of a brands stay will “depend on what the brand would like to execute and achieve from the space,” according to Levy.
“There are great brands out there that are not getting into retail sites as they perceive the risk to be to high. This concept will allow us to engage these brands, give them a space so they can build their retail experience to help them establish a permanent retail presence.”
The store has been designed with a contemporary and minimalist aesthetic, “to allow a brand to come in and inject their own brand essence into the space,” able to be de-constructed to suit many usages including clothing, jewellery, accessories, art, homewares and furniture.
The first brand to enter the space is Watson x Watson, the sister duo of Liberty and Somer Watson who launched their label in 2012. They are a locally made Australian fashion label and previously shown at Australian Fashion week, been stocked in over 50 independent boutiques around Australia and operated a retail store at Paddington in Sydney’s east.
After taking the decision to pull out of all wholesale channels, Watson’s aim is to add more retails stores to their Military road flagship in Mosman and grow their online store.
“The biggest challenge facing our business used to be cash flow but now with two Watson x Watson retail stores cash flow is no longer an issue,” said Liberty Watson.
“When we were wholesaling and had cash flow issues we found sending posh boxes of chocolates with a note saying ‘It would be sweet if you could pay us’ rather than an angry phone call from a debt collector worked wonders.
Watson said the company’s product is “wholeheartedly Australian made,” which she said was a rarity in the local fashion industry scene.
“I think style wise what differentiates us is that we don’t overdo the styling. Our pieces are classics, staple items, investment pieces. They have a timelessness to them it’s not loud fast fashion it’s sophisticated and special.”
Speaking on the success of 100 Squared since launching, Levy said their had been “lots of success stories,” pointing to the rise of Oskar the label. The boutique retailer entered the 100 Squared space in 2015, with the goal to eventually have their own retail store, which transpired 18 months later when it opened their own permanent store within Westfield Sydney.
Concurrently Oskar the label launched their label through wholesale channels in Japan and America and in 2016 they also launched an online store. They have now set their sights on becoming a multichannel retailer.
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