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Simply Runway launches Accents
Local fashion retail is about to get a little bit more interesting. Simply Runway, a four-year-old boutique at Grand Bazaar, has expanded to include Simply Runway Accents: a mini-emporium for shoes, handbags and other accessories. New stores open (and close) all the time, but Simply Runway Accents has an added attraction: the accessories offshoot will offer retail space to local designers, rent-free.
Candice Baccus, Simply Runway owner, says Retailing the Runway is a five-phase project designed to increase the exposure of local designers. Culminating in a competitive fashion show, Retailing the Runway will see three designers housed at Simply Runway Accents for a period of three months each. Designers participating in the fashion show, slated to happen early next year, will be selected based on criteria that has not yet been revealed. Baccus, along with her store manager Kristy-Marie Chang and blogger/stylist Stephanie Ramlogan, will be responsible for these selections.
While I applaud every effort to promote the local fashion industry, I can’t shake one nagging concern. One prevailing trend in our sometimes-flailing industry is the lack of a comprehensive plan (followed steadily by a lack of significant support). For instance, I’m not sure we need to have designers competing against each other for a retail opportunity when they already have to compete against the Panamanian and Miami imports that exist at nationwide boutiques. The opportunity-cost struggle is real. It will take a lot more support—beyond retail space—to guarantee exposure and sales for the selected designers.
However, I do agree that by itself Retailing the Runway is an interesting proposition. Perhaps if it is developed as a national initiative, one that included several leading retailers and other small boutiques, along with manufacturing support for designers, the value for designers, consumers and retailers alike could actually be realised.
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