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Sunday, November 29, 2009
Going up, going down the retail circuit
I was running down from Bangkok Convention Centre to CentralWorld after a Zumba class trial during the Asia Fitness Convention, in the hope to grasp a piece of sandwich when I stumbled upon this retail space renovation.
Ladies and gentlemen, the American fashion retail giant Gap will finally land in the City of Angels!
Observing the gigantic space that would soon become the first home of the all-American style (okay, i might be wrong since Gap markets different products for the European and American markets to ensure it carters to local taste and sensibility), I was thinking if this parade of international high-street chains could be the survival stretegy of the local shopping malls. In the past two years, we've seen the openning of Zara, Topshop, Forever 21 and Miss Selfridge -- all regarded as high-street magnets in Europe and the States. Gap will come to town in February and I have an impression that sooner or later, the Thai shoppers would finally welcome the Swedish retailer H&M, the real high-street favourite of many locals.
The first question that came to my mind when I saw the huge Gap logo was whether fashion industry did not know the going-down way. Few days passed and I realised that it's just to do with a way of looking at things and we often look at what we can see, but not what we no longer can. Simply put, with all shop opennings come the closure of former ones, or the relocation to other space. Unless you walk CentralWorld everyday, you'd never remember what was once there at the space where Gap would be housed. Whatever it was, it's probably moved to some less marketable location and what had been at that less marketable location could have been crossed off the shopping mall floor plans. With an arrival of a new brand, there's always a departure of a less successful one and the opening of a new chain is thus no indication that the business is going up.
On the contrary, it could be a sign of going down since these well-known high-street chains are much easier to market than less-known, edgy labels that carter to the niche, uber-stylish customers. I remember the hype that surrounded the opening of Zara and Topshop and it's not going to be different with Gap, which has long been ranked one top favourite for those 'pre-order' commercial internet websites. Gap's simple and less trend-conscious style is a far cry from British chains like Topshop and Miss Selfridge and could be the answer for many who look for less fashionable, but more functional and timeless pieces in a time when changing their wardrobe content every six months is not a financially feasible fashion behaviour anymore.