The future of inner cities

Fashion Retail 2.0 – New approaches to revitalizing city centers

Nike Basketball Court

Credits: Nike

Fashion retail continues to dominate the German retail sector with 143 store chainsranking second in an international country comparison. However, our city centers are facing a transformation. In the long term, this picture is changing in the centers: More and more stores are closing, leaving behind empty unused spaces. Yet there is great potential to create new places of desire and interaction with physical spaces, whose focus is less on pure product sales and more on services.

Experiences and encounters are the new incentives in retail

Post-Covid, consumer behavior is characterized by a more conscious, social enjoyment. Consumption for consumption’s sake is declining, whereas an increased desire for meeting each other to pursue common passions and interests is emerging. The following approaches from various fashion brands are intended to inspire and demonstrate how better staging in the physical space can improve customer loyalty.

Live and exclusive

As an exclusive “Traveling Social Club”, Prada’s fashion pop-up has already been hosted in international cities such as Miami, Hong Kong and Moscow, coinciding with global art events. The latest edition took place alongside the recent Frieze Los Angeles art fair and featured an immersive installation by artist Martine Syms. For the event, Prada took over the popular Genghis Cohen restaurant for two days. The format is a combination of art installations, hospitality, performances and talks, making it a striking example of a new, less commercial form of customer engagement. With the exclusive live events, Prada is embracing the concept of “Member Clubs” and aims to reinforce the brand’s cultural attitude rather than solely promoting direct sales.

Prada fashion pop-up

Credits: Prada

Offline and community-focused

For its one-year anniversary at TX Huaihai, a youth cultural center in Shanghai, Burberry collaborated with young creative talents to present the “Burberry Generation” exhibition. Curated under the three themes of “Reconstructed Garden,” “Variation,” and “My Balance,” various artistic forms are represented, including sculptures, photographs, as well as virtual and digital art. The Burberry Generation project, launched in November 2020 for the Chinese market, focuses on the pioneering forces of various fields such as music, art, fashion and technology. Over the past year, there have been eleven editions of the project, with a variety of artworks created in collaboration with over 30 content creators.

Public and accessible to all

With its basketball courts for local athletes, Nike shows how public space can be enhanced and revitalized: The legendary, colorful Basketball Court / Pigalle on Paris’ Rue Duperré was designed by the French design agency Ill Studio along with Stéphane Ashpool as part of his fashion brand Pigalle’s collaboration with Nike, and has already undergone five redesigns since it was first painted in 2009 – the latest in 2020 with a graphic, block-colored design to match the Nike Pigalle Converse collection.
In Belgrade, the brand created a contemporary space for local athlete:s and sports enthusiasts late last year. As part of its “Move to Zero” campaign, Nike renovated a basketball court at the Block 70 recreation center with 20,000 sneakers donated by the community. In the process, the park’s existing fitness equipment and public furniture were repaired and repainted to help the recreation center in New Belgrade reflect the region’s long-established history of basketball while becoming a gathering place for local sports enthusiasts.

Nike basketball court

Credits: Nike

Together and sustainable

Fashion consumers expect fashion to last, which is why “repair retail” is currently experiencing an upswing. For example, fashion retailers are integrating repair stations or DIY workshops into their stores to promote a more sustainable attitude towards repairing and reusing, while at the same time creating incentives for visitors. Converse demonstrates this in Melbourne with its “Renew Labs” initiative, a retail experience that combines creativity, co-creation, inclusive ideation and a vision for a more sustainable future in the fashion industry. In doing so, the store acts as a community space and hub, offering creative workshops as well as cleaning and repair services for worn Chucks in order to revamp them.

Converse Renew Labs

Credits: Converse

Fashion Retail must not be a pure sales channel

Fashion retail is a decisive factor in the question of how our city centers can be given a new lease of life. Downtowns and retail stores are interdependent – their attractiveness is mutually dependent, as encounters in downtown areas stimulate retail and vice versa. Service-oriented concepts will gradually replace pure product sales and outdated “Bigger is Better” approaches in the city center. If fashion retailers succeed in creating attractive visitor incentives through new approaches by turning the physical space into a place of experience or a community destination, lively areas are guaranteed.

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