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Browns 'Roaming Retail' Concept to Set Up Shop in Berlin

The British multi-brand boutique will host a three-day, festival-style pop up for the latest incarnation of its 'Nomad' travelling retail concept.
Browns x Fred Segal Nomad store | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Tamison O'Connor

BERLIN, Germany — British luxury boutique Browns Fashion is planting a flag in Berlin.

The multi-brand retailer has chosen the German city, known for its vibrant club culture and underground art scene, for the latest iteration of its Nomad project, an ongoing series of experiential retail pop-ups designed to amplify brand recognition among new audiences and foster Browns' existing community.

The three-day pop-up, which will run from the 14 to 16 November, is specifically targeted to the Berlin consumer, staging experiences that fuse fashion, art and music. The full programme is yet to be announced, but attendees can expect discussions and performances from a mix of local and international talent across the three industries, as well as exclusive designer collaborations.

Attendees will also be able to shop clothes on display via the newly launched Browns Fashion mobile app. Events are open to the public and will be available for booking via the Browns Fashion website.

The festival-style retail experience will be hosted in partnership with Berlin-based PR agency Reference Studios, which staged its own 24-hour-long fashion festival in the city earlier this year and has an extensive local network that Browns can tap into. The collaboration will also enable Browns to better understand the nuances of the market.

Berlin has a burgeoning creative community that resonates with our luxury offering.

Germany represents a key growth market for the retailer, said Chief Executive Holli Rogers. It "sits within the top five markets at Browns and we feel there is huge potential for growth," she said, adding that, based on customer data, they know there is an appetite for "luxury super brands such as Balenciaga."

Certainly, the city has long been a magnet for creatives, and while Berlin Fashion Week holds little clout with industry insiders, the city has a thriving underground fashion scene, home to buzzy labels like 032c and GmbH. “Berlin has a burgeoning creative community that resonates with our luxury offering,” Rogers said.

Browns first opened as a brick-and-mortar boutique on London's South Molton Street in 1970, introducing brands like Calvin Klein and Comme des Garçons to the British market. In 2015, Farfetch, an e-commerce platform that connects a curated network of boutiques and brands to consumers, bought the retailer; since the acquisition, Browns online business has grown significantly, while in-store revenue has tripled.

It launched its “Nomad” concept in October 2017, in a bid to better engage new audiences. Unlike a traditional pop-up, Nomad events are experience-led and tailored to the specific character of the host neighbourhood.

This will be the retailer's third Nomad experiment. Its first project, Browns East, is a store in London's Shoreditch, a neighbourhood that attracts a cooler, younger crowd than the Mayfair location where its original store lives. The semi-permanent space is based on parent-company Farfetch's "Store of the Future" concept, closely integrating technology and AI into the physical retail experience.

The goal is to convert a captivating experience into sales, allowing our customers to take home a part of the experience itself.

Last year, the retailer set up shop in Los Angeles for two months, hoping to reach a new audience and drive customer acquisition for its global e-commerce site. For the LA pop-up, Browns partnered with Fred Segal, enabling the British boutique to tap into Fred Segal’s local clientele.

For multi-brand e-tailers, it can be a challenge to grow brand awareness beyond a home market. Browns, however, believes it has cracked a formula for success with its concept of  “roaming” retail. Following the Browns LA launch, the retailer saw an 80 percent increase in traffic to the website from the LA region, while brand awareness was up 15 percent.

“In the end, the ... goal is to convert a captivating experience into sales, allowing our customers to take home a part of the experience itself,” said Rogers. “These tangible moments are important for us as a retailer, where context and connection to a brand is more important than ever.”

Next year, Browns is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The boutique will also shutter its original South Molton Street location and reopen around the corner on Brook Street.

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