When the car park became the catwalk
Last month, Belfast’s leisure and retail destination Victoria Square staged a fully sold out ‘drive-in’ fashion event, within its car park. Created by the Victoria Square marketing team, the event showcased the centre’s fashion brands in an hour-long fashion show, featuring 30 models showcasing 60 looks alongside performances from live DJ’s and percussion performances.
The car park catwalk was not the first underground fashion even to be hosted in the Commerz Real-owned destination’s car park, with a previous event held in 2011, but Lauren Campbell, marketing manager at Victoria Square, said that the marketing team wanted to take it up a notch with a drive-in fashion even.
“We were conscious of the changing health restrictions and guidelines, therefore we wanted to make sure that we created an event that could still go ahead if things were to suddenly change, making a drive-in event the way forward,” she tells.
The car park is managed by QPark and is located underground, which Campbell says gave it the perfect urban and edgy feel they were looking for with the event. The car park location provided the event with a new dedicated space to create its longest catwalk ever at 70m, providing an impactful background for up to 30 models on the runway at one time.
There was a broad demographic mix of attendees at the event thanks to its drive-in access: “We found that by using the car park and making guests stay in their cars, it opened the event to an extended audience, particularly for those that would not usually visit an on-mall fashion show. We had a range of guests from babies to the elderly – and even a dog.”
The fashion show was a sell-out, which Campbell says was expected. What they did not expect it was it to sell out in three hours: “We shot a teaser campaign in the car park prior to the release of the tickets and pushed this out on our own social channels to get people talking and create a buzz around the event. We had lots of online and broadcast media lined up to promote the event, but due to the immediate response from consumers, this was no longer necessary.”
After such a successful event, the Victoria Square team will be making Park & Stride a mainstay: “We will definitely run another fashion show to support our in-house brands and retailers. It is a great way to showcase the diverse offer, encompassing designer labels to independent favourites.
“It would have been amazing to have a larger capacity for the Park & Stride show, and we are currently looking at logistics for the next event and finding safe and responsible ways to increase capacity, whilst not compromising on the atmosphere and experience.”
This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.