SINGAPORE - Two months ago, home-grown department store Robinsons opened its 85,000 sq ft outlet at Jem and, along with it, a dedicated space for local emerging fashion labels.
The 1,049 sq ft space stocks six brands - Cruise, Foreword, Light by Sabrina Goh, Mu, Pauline Ning and Odds by Reckless Ericka - and is a first-time concept for the 155-year-old retailer. Previously, Robinsons carried local labels such as Embre and Yin & Yang, but these were stocked alongside international labels, such as Oasis and Basic House, on its women's floor.
On why the company decided to open a dedicated section for emerging local labels, Robinsons Singapore managing director Franz Kraatz tells Urban: "These labels had a healthy following before coming into Robinsons Jem and our shoppers were ready for something new."
But are they really? When Urban was there during a recent Saturday night, there were few shoppers perusing the racks at the local label space. The area saw no more than 15 shoppers walk through it during the peak shopping hour at the bustling, newly opened mall, even though the rest of Robinsons had more foot traffic. Mr Kraatz cautions that "it is still too preliminary to assess the performance of the local label section; nevertheless, it is in keeping with our expectations".
Brands stocked at the local space seem to have varying experiences so far. Declining to reveal sales figures, designer Nic Wong, 40, whose Cruise line is carried there, says that "sales have been encouraging and above our expectations and forecast". On the other hand, Foreword designer Evelyn Ng, 26, notes that her brand has sold only between five and 10 pieces each month. "It's below expectations. I believe it can be better," she says.
Robinsons' dedicated space is the latest effort in recent years by a department store to create a platform for local emerging labels. Parco at Millenia Walk created Parco Next Next in 2010, a designer incubation programme and 6,000 sq ft retail space at Millenia Walk.
It is a collaboration between Parco Singapore and the Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore, with support from government agency Spring Singapore.
Despite the support, foot traffic there has been sparse. Local designer Samuel Wong of Evenodd says that, on average, he sells about 40pieces per month there.