Joseph Francis Wong
& Kyle K.L. Tam
Hong Kong Design Institute
Spatial identity of fashion brands: The visibility network in complex shopping malls
In an increasingly digitised world, the growth of e-commerce and the resulting shift of sales from ‘bricks to clicks’ has inevitably transformed the identity of the physical fashion store. While fashion brands are evidently streamlining their store portfolios with fewer new luxury stores openings in the past year, they are actually investing more in larger stores in strategic locations in the most expensive cities such as London, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Many of these new mega-stores are located in major large-scale urban shopping malls because the new generation of digitally savvy millennial consumers targets multiple-activity socio-entertainment destinations rather than shopping-only destinations. With higher per-shop investment, it is imperative for fashion brands to find the best position within a shopping mall to maximize value. This study looks beyond conventional shopping mall tenant distribution theories based primarily on physical separation / adjacency and pioneers new methods to examine its spatial structure as a complex visual network that builds up consumer experience. Visual network analysis of a shopping mall can provide valuable insights for fashion brands to improve placement strategy and for management to distribute tenants to maximise the positive impact on sales generated through strategic clustering of different tenant types. Methods adopted from social network analysis are used to construct inter-visibility networks to understand the interrelationships among fashion shops in three high-end luxury malls in Hong Kong – Pacific Place, IFC Mall and Elements. The findings suggest a self-organizing spatial structure among fashion shops that evolves over time to maximize inter-visibility. There appears to be a tendency for the visual network of fashion shops in a mall to develop into a connected network through lease cycles to maximize mutual benefits as comparative goods stores.