If we learned anything in the past five years, it’s that expats like to shop. Dispatches’ first installment on Europe’s upscale fashion outlets was – to put it mildly – incredibly well received, with more than 300,000 page views from more than 110 countries. And since we posted our first list in 2016, the premium fashion outlet trend has gone from a concept for bargain shoppers to buy last season’s slow sellers in the United States and wealthier European countries to a global trend spreading to developing countries.
And while outlet malls in the U.S. – always down-scale – are suffering, the more upscale European versions are booming even as the pandemic rolled across Europe, shopping stopped and centers were shuttered. E-commerce grew while conventional shopping was suspended. In Europe, the designer outlet sector has never skipped a beat, with a number of new outlets opening from Spain to Georgia, and others on the verge of opening or expanded/upgraded.
Tbilisi Outlet Village won’t open until 2022, but there’s already a good deal of buzz around this premium fashion outlet development in Georgia’s capital. Phase 1 construction is scheduled to start before the end of 2021 on what will be a fairly modest development, with an initial 70 units in about 12,500 square meters of leasable space. Plans are for the center ultimately to displace 20,000 square meters in leasable space, with 110 units.
Tbilisi Outlet Village will have the upscale discount market to itself, at least for awhile as the first in the Caucasus. No brands have been revealed, but developers have stated Tbilisi Outlet Village is 30-percent leased. Household income in this former Soviet republic is the equivalent of about $1,200, so this will likely be a destination for the 1 Percent. That said, Georgia is increasingly on the radar of travelers looking for adventure in an exotic, undiscovered destination with great food and outdoor adventure.
Though we couldn’t find any figures for total investment, the developers – Georgian Outlets & Resort and The Outlet Resource Group – are bringing in architectural firm L35, which designed the La Roca and Las Rozas outlet villages in Spain. So, this looks like a serious effort.
Boy, the timing couldn’t have been much worse for this, though the Netherlands spent less time than other countries in lockdown. Amsterdam The Style Outlets opened in November 2020, the first discount fashion center in a major Dutch metropolitan market. The Style Outlets is also the only outlet center in the Randstad, the megalopolis that includes Rotterdam, Den Haag and Amsterdam – a population of more than 12 million potential consumers within one hour’s drive. The town it’s in is actually called Halfweg (Halfway) because it’s halfway between Amsterdam and Haarlem.
This 110 million euro center is a partnership between 35-year-old, Madrid-based developer Neinver and Nuveen Real Estate. It has about 20,000 square meters (more than 200,000 square feet) of leasable space and 100 stores, including most of the High Street apparel companies such as Jack & Jones, and some upscale shops including a Karl Lagerfeld store.
On Google, Amsterdam The Styles Outlets gets 4 out of 5, on 295 reviews. Most reviews call it a “cozy” shopping experience with lots of sales amid ongoing construction. Though some reviews bemoaned the lack of “anything interesting” in the way of new brands.
Fashion House Outlet Pallady just opened in Bucharest. This 25 million euro investment by Moscow-based Fashion House Group has 12,000 square meters of leasable space and about 60 stores so far, 60 seemingly the Goldilock number in 2021 – not too big, not too small.
Stores include an outlet of Istanbul-based home accessory brand English Home, a number of German High Street Brands including Marc O’Polo and Tom Tailor as well as Benetton and even a U.S. Polo Association, which you don’t see a lot in Europe.
This is one of two Fashion House projects, the other being Fashion House Militari.
La Torre Outlet Zaragoza opened between Madrid and Barcelona in October 2020. Zaragoza is the capital of the historic Aragon region with Moorish palaces and fabulous architecture, so this could be worked into a combination shopping/sightseeing trip. On a modest scale compared to the giant 200-plus store outlets such as Serravalle in Italy, La Torre has 60 stores in about 13,500 square meters of leasable space.
While the center has a lot of the expected brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and Boss, it has a number of stores from Madrid-based luxury apparel brand Tendam Group that you don’t see at the Italian, German and Dutch centers including Fifty and Cortefiel as well as other Spanish brands including Spagnolo.
In addition to apparel, this repurposed factory site has a movie theatre and lots of restaurants and a DIY home improvement store from Swiss-based Bauhaus.
This is a project by Vienna-based ROS Retail Outlet Shopping.
La Torre Outlet gets 3.8 stars out of 5 on Google, 1,653 reviews. Many of the reviews note the variety of restaurants as well as the gym and other amenities you don’t see at other fashion outlets.
• London-based VIA Outlets used the pandemic to complete 100 remodels across its portfolio, including a major redo of the 20-year-old Zweibrücken Fashion Outlet, Germany. Which – rumor has it – will include a Five Guys hamburger joint.
• Designer Outlet Warszawa has expanded. This is the only outlet in Poland with premium brands including Armani and Boss.