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The Fleet Store Helping Emerging Fashion Designers

Claire Woodfield

The Fleet Store Helping Emerging Fashion Designers

The Fleet Store initiative is designed to offer students and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) fashion alumni real-world experience within the  textiles, clothing and footwear industry.

The Fleet Store 2015 was a student initiative, bricks-and-mortar retail pop-up store run in partnership with the Asia Pacific Design Library (APDL) at State Library of Queensland (SLQ). It was as a temporary stockist for emerging designers who would otherwise find it difficult to enter the competitive fashion retail market.

Commercial viability was a key consideration in the planning and operation of The Fleet Store. To ensure the feasibility in preparation for its opening, all set-up logistics including financial expenses and forecasted income were carefully documented. In the following months, these budgets and plans were consulted and analysed for maximum impact. Initial sponsorship was gained through the use of online crowd-funding website Pozible and various in-kind sponsors.

The 2015 Fleet Store managerial team was a group of second-year QUT Bachelor of Fine Arts (Fashion) students. Several of these students were also studying a Bachelor of Business, as part of the only double-degree (Fashion and Business) program in Australia.  All Fleet Store retail staff were QUT student volunteers. Many of these students had no previous retail experience and through this project gained valuable skills which have been beneficial for their own personal and professional development. The Fleet Store internship program provided QUT students with experience in “real world” learning while simultaneously allowing interns to network within the fashion and QUT communities.

This year 45 current and six alumni QUT labels were stocked in-store. Designers were encouraged to create products they felt relevant to The Fleet Store target market, in regards to sizing, versatility and wearability. There were a handful of positive outcomes for The Fleet Store designers who participated. Current student designer and Buying Manager Isabel Byram had product from her label Florentina selected to sell in the SLQ Bookshop, and Arkie Barton a final year QUT fashion designer, was approached by the Museum of Art to stock product from her namesake label, Arkie.

In the spirit of supporting local business, The Fleet Store sourced business assets from South East Queensland organisations. Four clothing racks used by The Fleet Store were commissioned through a local carpenter. A local book and paper artist hand cut the store signage. The coat hangers used to display clothing were also hand-painted by The Fleet Store visual merchandising team.

The Fleet Store had a successful trade for 2015, which resulted in more than $15,000 worth of sales over a six day trading period. The marketing activities taken by The Fleet Store managerial team, as well as SLQ and APDL resulted in over $50,000 in exposure.

Details for The Fleet Store 2016 will be out later this year. It will mark the 6th year the fashion pop-up store has been operating.

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