Report: Australian Labels Find Their Feet in UK Market

Nick Gower and Jean Claude Abouchar, the founders behind fashion e-retail site and distributor The Grand Social, are giving Australian fashion designers the chance to tap into the Europe market through one portal.

The pair understand the online space - Gower owns digital communications agency Mentally Friendly and Abouchar once had his own digital and creative branding agency, Capture. Outside the web, Gower and Abouchar have experimented with pop-up stores boutique showrooms.

In 2008 they joined forces as The Grand Social, an online marketplace for Australian and New Zealand designers including labels such as Arabella Ramsay, Bec and Bridge, Asuza and Cheap Monday.

The pair work directly with designers to help them gain brand awareness and explore online options. They take a percentage of the sales from the designers stocked on The Grand Social site and in return take care of warehousing, shipping and distribution, and some advertising and marketing.

And now they are bringing the selection of Australian designs available on their site to an international market, with the UK first on the cards. Gower said they are working on setting up a bricks-and-mortar store in east London's Shoreditch, with lease arrangements and an official opening to be confirmed by the end of January.

The duo selected London as their first move into the international fashion market because they needed an English-speaking country and felt London's position as a fashion hothouse made it a good place to start.

They intend to have the London store up and running in time to coincide with London Fashion Week in February. Gower says they will have to work hard to break into untouched markets because they do not advertise, choosing instead to participate in events and trusting the nature of word of mouth.

Germany is their next target: Berlin's cosmopiltan atmosphere attracts artistic and creative types well suited to their business approach, they say. The business model will look to attract and support local designers in international markets, as well as continue to promote the Australian brands showcased on the site.