Author: Heidi Roberts, 01 February 2018

Who’s tackling the workwear market?

A recent client project by FSP uncovered an unfulfilled demand for women’s workwear in a large historic UK town.  How can that be, you ask, with the traditional high street line-up, supported by an established department store?

Immediately, a few myths are exploded:

  1. Boundaries are blurring between generations – No!
  2. Casual is the new norm for workwear – Not quite
  3. Staple high street tenants, leads to staple offer – Not necessarily
  4. Centres with a complete line up satisfy the shopper demand – Not if it’s not properly planned

One of the cornerstones of FSP’s FISH categorisation is that people purchase Clothing & Footwear in order to convey a message about themselves.  So, although work style may have a casual influence these days, no-one wants their working world to think they’ve just rolled out of bed and are dressed the same as they would be in their downtime. Equally, style may be ageless, but that doesn’t mean boundaries have completely disappeared between the generations.

Attitudes to oneself are a strong driver in purchasing decisions, from a youthful fear of missing out to a much more assured maturity or a prioritisation of feeding the family above re-stocking one’s wardrobe.


So, M&S may do very good workwear, but it will never appeal to everyone and casual may be normal, but it’s casual with care.

But what of the other two myths?  If the town and its centre have a near-complete tenant line-up and that line-up includes all the favourite high street names, what’s missing?

Firstly, a cautionary note to the retailers themselves; if your merchandising online has a workwear edit, don’t exclude it from your store.  Next does this really well and there’s no reason why the bevy of young fashion retailers can’t follow suit; it’s not all about the weekend!

Finally to the asset managers: You might know what your immediate clients (your tenants) want, but what about their clients, the shoppers? Ask them, as we did in this historic UK town, and you may find yourself surprised. Take a look at your catchment and see if categorised shopper spend matches what you have available.

FSP can help; our FISH categorisation helps define your catchment and your tenant line up, allowing you to identify target operators. Our leasing support, using consumer research and marketing intelligence, puts this into practice. Contact us to find out how.

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