Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Fashion war heating up in New Zealand

H&M opens to the public at Sylvia Park on Saturday.
H&M opens to the public at Sylvia Park on Saturday.

Local retailers will have to up their game as they prepare for the New Zealand launch of the world's two largest retailers - Zara and H&M.

The two fashion giants are both opening in Sylvia Park mall in the next two weeks. Sitting in the mid-range for clothing, they will be competing against the likes of Glassons and Hallensteins with AUT head of fashion Yvonne Chan saying the Kiwi favourites would have to lift the bar to compete.

"New Zealanders' aren't loyal when it comes to fashion, instead they want cheap clothes that are well made," Chan said. "H&M are known for making affordable high-fashion pieces, and Zara is known for its reasonably-priced and well-made classic styles."

Chan said the arrival of Zara and H&M could see a fashion war with the arrival likely to panic Kiwi fashion brands as well as Australian brands such as Witchery and Country Road which had similar price points to Zara.

"New Zealand fashion stores like Glassons and Hallensteins will have to ramp up quality and selection fast while dropping prices," Chan said.

"If they do that, they have a chance of competing. The alternative is we will see them lose their iconic kiwi statuses."

Hallenstein Glasson chief executive Graeme Popplewell said the company had invested in revamping the Glassons and Hallensteins stores at Sylvia Park over the last month in anticipation of the Zara and H&M openings.

He said the company was preparing for increased competition but already knew what to expect.

"I think what it will do is just mean that everyone has to sharpen up," Popplewell said. "They'll bring very high standards to retail so New Zealand retailers will have to make sure that we match them," he said.

"Obviously with our Glassons business we face that competition from them in Australia, so we have some understanding as to what it means."

Other retailers such as the Warehouse have already admitted the arrival would increase competition and could prove challenging but Chan said it would be New Zealand customers that would be the winners.

"We won't have to do online shopping to access these big brands any more- they are right on our doorstep," Chan said.

"If they do well in Auckland, there is a strong chance they will open up in other big cities," she said. "The other potential side effect of them doing well would be getting more big chains like GAP, Uniqlo, Primark, Forever 21 and Next to enter New Zealand."

The arrival of British retailer Topshop in Auckland last year caused a stir, and the brand is opening a second store in Wellington in November.

H&M
• Tonight - VIP launch
• Tomorrow - Press day
• Saturday - Public store opening

Zara
• October 6 - opening

- NZ Herald

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