A passion for fashion?

Brokers and real estate players capitalize on Fashion Week to win over designers looking for retail space

Oct.October 01, 2014 07:00 AM
At the Victor de Souza Runway Show, from left: Esther Muller, President of the Academy for Continuing Education; real estate investor Errol Rappaport; Faith Hope Consolo, chair of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group; actress Darielle Gilad; and Joseph Aquino, executive vice president of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group

At the Victor de Souza Runway Show, from left: Esther Muller, President of the Academy for Continuing Education; real estate investor Errol Rappaport; Faith Hope Consolo, chair of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group; actress Darielle Gilad; and Joseph Aquino, executive vice president of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group

Fashion Week in New York City isn’t just for celebrities, glossy magazine editors and design house executives.

The event is also a key networking opportunity for real estate players and retail brokers.

“A lot of these designers have replaced Madison Avenue with Soho or the Meatpacking District,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of Douglas Elliman’s retail division. Consolo said that roughly seven years ago, she signed Rag & Bone as a direct result of Fashion Week. And, she said, she’s got a new lease in the works with one of the designers she met at the shows last month.

Attending the shows, Consolo explained, is an important way to learn about new designers who might want to move or lease retail space in the city.

Consolo said this year she targeted some newer brands, including Lyla Rose and Lisa Perry. She observed that Neiman Marcus’s recent announcement that it’s opening its first New York City store at the Related Companies’ Hudson Yards development could prompt other fashion retailers and high-end designers to follow at that site, or at some of the city’s other new big developments such as Downtown’s Brookfield Place or the World Trade Center.

The bi-annual event, which these days is held at Lincoln Center in the Mercedes Benz tent, also drew multiple investors looking to open fashion stores in the city, Consolo said. She said she spent much of her time speaking with them about the state of the market.

And it wasn’t just brokers who showed up for the see-and-be-seen event. Julie Macklowe — wife of developer Billy Macklowe — could be found at a Zang Toi fashion show, the Malaysia-born designer for whom she was a muse in 2013.

Fashion District property owners got in on the action, too.

Among them was Savitt Partners, the owner of 530 Seventh. The building between 38th and 39th streets houses the fashion industry incubator Space 530, which was opened to fashion bloggers for the week.

The space offered charging stations, snacks and other Fashion Week necessities — as well as a happy hour for everyone at the end of the week.

“We’re trying to grow,” said Melissa MacFarland, the marketing manager at Space 530. She said the company’s Fashion Week efforts were aimed at increasing their client base for the 30 designed spaces used as showrooms or deluxe co-working space at the sprawling building.

Of course, the fun and glamour of the week is just the beginning. No leases are signed at the shows themselves.

“Fashion Week is a starter,” Consolo said, “not a finisher.”


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