Maison Martin Margiela is the next victim in a long line of fashion retailers to admit defeat against a combination of high rents and changing customers. Its Brussels store said turnover fell by 50 % since 2011, making the high rents untenable.
The store of the famous Belgian designer has been closed for two weeks now, but Belgian newspaper De Standaard discovered the reason behind this: a bankruptcy. "Each month, turnover decreases", says manager Nicola Vercraeye: "turnover has been halved since 2011." The manager blames a multitude of road works in the city centre as the reason her customers rather order online than to come to the store.
Luxury fashion stores find themselves in rough waters: even an icon like Karl Lagerfeld had to close his Antwerp store due to excessive rents. Another major factor is changing customer behaviour: not only are consumers increasingly ordering online, but they are also changing their spending pattern. Fashion is falling down on the priority ladder, as experiences (travels, festivals, restaurants) take over. Fashion is beginning to become old-fashioned, journalist Veerle Windels stated in De Standaard: that is a challenge to which retailers seem unable to rise for now...