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literally a shop window, which creates desire. Property for them is just a marketing cost. They are selling the brand, not the product.” UK retailers like Jack Wills are playing a similar game, says McManus, but the US brands have more experience and a dash of North American cool. John Strachan, global head of retail at Cushman & Wakefield, says the recent US arrivals are treading a well-worn path. “It’s not uncommon for brand perception in a new market to be more upmarket [abroad] than it is back home. Look at H&M or Zara’s appeal in New York, or Debenhams’ appeal in central Europe.” But Strachan, whose team advised

A&F on its London arrival, agrees that taking expensive central London premises is a key strand of the marketing strategy for canny new arrivals. “A London flagship stamps quality on

the brand from day one. London is the only luxury location in the UK – the only place to give a brand an aspirational feel. And of course you can always trade down from there – but it doesn’t work the other way around. You can’t trade up from the high street.” Peter Thomas, director of central London retail at Savills, says the motive for taking the brand upmarket is simple: because they can. “To maintain margins requires an air of exclusivity,” he says. “US retailing is vast, mostly mall shopping, and formulaic. It’s hard to differentiate yourself in a large mall, and eventually you have to expend elsewhere, and you can charge more in the UK. “US names have a certain style and

persona and the brands can cleverly elevate their importance through


Bosideng, the Chinese fashion fascia, has more than 7,000 outlets – but just one 13,300 sq ft unit in Bond Street. According to Savills, Chinese retailers could follow the US brands by staking out an upmarket retail pitch in Europe. Fashion retailers JNBY, Li Ning and luxury menswear brand

Eve Enterprise Group are all worth watching, they say. Nick Bradstreet, deputy managing director of Savills in Hong

Kong, says: “There is a long list of strong Chinese brands that has begun to look into global expansion, and London has a strong appeal due to its reputation as an international shopping destination. Chinese shoppers view international brands as a greater status symbol than domestic brands so, by expanding into the UK, retailers are not just targeting new shoppers but also creating wider appeal for the brand within China.” UK fashion branding expert Mark McManus is not convinced

it will work. He says: “The problem for Chinese fashion is credibility – it has none in Europe. It’s still too new. And Bosideng’s branding is misguided. It looks vaguely American, but it isn’t saying ‘fashion’ to me.”

30 Summer 2013

If you want to buy a New Jersey Shore-style T-shirt and some flip-flops in and around Bond Street you will soon be overwhelmed with places to buy them. Following Abercrombie & Fitch are half a dozen others. US mall retailer Aeropostale offers a more predictable

guys and girls mix of hoodies and tees. It has 980 mall outlets in the US and already ships to the UK from its website; a London debut is expected. American Eagle Outfitters offers more of the same, and

has been plotting a UK debut since 2011. Express, which has 1,000 North American stores, is also said to be looking at a UK expansion. It has a tab on its website for flip-flops.

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