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IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT FREESE OF DP-US DESIGNER OUTLET
Written by Menswear Style in Interviews on the 21st November 2019 / In Conversation with Robert Freese of DP-US Designer Outlet
For a recent episode of the MenswearStyle podcast Peter Brooker sat down with Robert Freese, the Founder of DP-US Designer Outlet, a discounted designer shop located in the heart of East London. Robert discusses how he set up the business idea and how he is able to keep so many luxury fashion labels all happy under one roof. Peter and Robert also talk about the fashion industry as a whole and discuss what it takes to launch an ecommerce business today.
Please tell us about your business
“We’re a discount designer outlet based in the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, we’ve been trading from there since 2007 and we’ve rebranded recently from Designer Pop Up Store to DP-US Designer Outlet because we wanted to move away from the ‘pop up store’ label to give people confidence that we are always there. In the past we had to move to different units around the Truman Brewery due to graduate shows using a lot of the units, but negotiations are currently underway which means hopefully next summer we won’t have to move out from our current unit. That’s mainly why we’ve rebranded. The main ethos of the store is that everything is discounted all year around. Its like an up-market TK Maxx when you look at it as a business point of view. We offer heavier discounts on older collections, but we also get new current-season collections at smaller discounts too e.g. Stone Island is currently at 10-20% off.”
What is the vetting system for getting the products?
“We have agents working for us all around the world sourcing stock for us to sell discounted. Some of the stock comes directly from the brands, some comes from agencies that deal with distribution for brands, and some of it comes from large retailers from around the world. The whole concept started from when I had a menswear store in the 90s and we had some great brands such as Moncler, Bestaff, Prada Sport, Hugo Boss and Comme Des Garcons etc. but what we found was that we were left with a lot of stock each season. The brands also have a lot of control over how you retail e.g. you can’t mix spring/summer and autumn/winter, and you can’t mix old collection with new collection, which is understandable because they have an image of a range that they’ve designed for that particular season.”
“So, we ended up with so much surplus stock that I asked my business partner at the time what we should do with it. We decided to have a clearance sale in a local theatre and advertised it in the local paper, sent flyers out and informed our mailing list. We sold it all for 70% off and we cleared literally all of it. I then came up with this concept idea and wondered what all the other independents do with their surplus stock. It turned out that they would leave it all in their warehouse until it was sale season, where they could try sell it all off in store before the new collection would come in; then it all had to go back to the warehouse. I went on a road trip with an Italian friend through Italy and visited high-end designer boutique shops and asked them the same questions, and we got the same answers, so that’s how it all started. We were clearing stock for shops throughout Italy and we set up our first outlet as a concession in House of Hanover in London. From there it snowballed into people getting in touch daily because they wanted to clear their old collections and sample ranges.”
This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 41 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Robert Freese of independent discounted designer fashion retailer designerpopupstore.com You can listen to the full version below or subscribe in iTunes or Spotify directly.