The Real Deal New York

Real estate pros work it at Fashion Week

Runway shows provide opportunities for exposure, networking
By Zachary Kussin | February 01, 2013 07:00AM

Elliman broker Lawrence Rich with designer Betsey Johnson at a fashion event

For many New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors, this month’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is a chance to mingle with celebrities and scope out the hottest red-carpet looks for the fall. But for some real estate brokers, the Lincoln Center–based event is an important source for business leads.

“I’ve gone balls to the wall each [Fashion Week] for the last few years,” said Ryan Serhant, a Nest Seekers International broker and star of “Million Dollar Listing New York.”

Serhant currently has a $3.95 million listing at 61 West 62nd Street across from Lincoln Center, and he’s planning to host a Fashion Week–themed party there.

The glitz and glamour of Fashion Week is helpful for marketing properties, he said.

“Anyone who has a listing near Lincoln Center who is not utilizing [Fashion Week] for exposure is a moron,” said Serhant, who also did a stint as a runway model last year during Nolcha Fashion Week, a showcase for independent designers.

Runway shows are also good places to network, brokers said.

Jeff Gardner, a Corcoran Group broker who previously worked as a stylist and photographer, said he has a number of clients who work in the fashion industry. To keep up those relationships and to cultivate more, he makes sure to go backstage at a couple of runway shows each year.

“Business cards are passed within 10 seconds,” Gardner said. “It’s an easy form of networking for me, and it’s enjoyable.”

Of course, Fashion Week also gives real estate brokers ideas for their personal wardrobes, which is important in a sales-based business. Douglas Elliman’s Kane Manera, formerly an actor on TV’s “Guiding Light,” can regularly be found in the front row at runway shows. “Real estate is sales, and sales revolve around presentations, and that’s looking good,” said Manera, whose go-to look is a suit by Ralph Lauren, Zegna or Canali, complemented with a Hermès tie.

Douglas Elliman senior vice president Lawrence Rich, the former cohead of the Rich Levy fashion label, said he attends as many shows as his schedule permits. He’s met a number of potential clients at fashion events, he said, but Fashion Week is also a fun way to keep in touch with old friends.

“Once you’re a fashion person,” Rich said, “you’re always a fashion person.”