By Holly Dutton
The semi-annual Fashion Week in NYC kicked off Sept. 6 and for brokers, the affair goes hand in hand with luxury residential real estate in Manhattan.
One event included the brokers themselves as models. Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing star Ryan Serhant, SVP and managing director at Nest Seekers International, and Oren Alexander, SVP and co-founder of The Alexander Group at Prudential Douglas Elliman, both donned haute couture in the Nolcha Best of British Menswear Designers runway show.
There’s also the former fashion stars that have made the jump to real estate, including Lawrence Rich, senior vice president and associate broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman, who formerly owned his own fashion line, and Angelika Kallio, an associate broker with Citi Habitats, a former supermodel who graced fashion magazine covers throught the 90’s, including Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire.
“Music, fashion, real estate, all of it has to do with glamour,” said Rich. “It kind of all goes together. I think when expensive real estate is doing well it’s a sign that people are doing well. When people stop spending, they stop in all areas.” And judging by a recent StreetEasy.com condo market report showing a 26% overall increase in contract activity in July this year from last year, people are doing well.
The first Fashion Week in NYC started in 1943. Since then, it has grown to bring in hundreds of millions annually to the city, employ hundreds of thousands of people, attract visitors, and as many brokers hope, buyers. According to Mayor Bloomberg’s office, Fashion Week brought in $865 million to the city last year and attracted more than 200,000 visitors to the city. The city’s fashion industry generates $2 billion annually in tax revenue and employs more than 100,000 people.
Before entering the real estate world, Rich co-founded his own women’s clothing line, a successful venture whose famous fans such as Oprah Winfrey and Nancy Reagan, both of whom wore his clothes. “Just the same as fashion has to do with music, fashion has to do with real estate as well,” said Rich. “I look at in some of the same aspects. I use to put people in pretty clothes and now I put them in pretty homes. We used to have trunk shows and now we have open houses. You’re showcasing clothes, you’re showcasing apartments. There are a lot of similarities.”
Influenced by a mother who was a home builder, and a grandmother who was a fashion designer, Kallio was always interested in both worlds.“Luckily, I was able to be a model,” said Kallio. “And then, when I had a chance to go into real estate, I took it.”She said the connection between real estate and fashion is based in the artistry and creativity that is a part of both industries.“It’s all art,” she said. “Real estate is to build a building — to design something. It takes a lot of creativity and designers, those same designers who create fashion, create a tapestry that could go on the wall in the apartment or lobby of the building.”
Colors, she explained, are a big part of the connection. Colors and designs fill in the empty space of an apartment and show buyers what is possible in the new space.“Fashion brings color,” she said. “Firms or developers use these colors but in designing their websites and designing their homes or putting these colors into real estate.” She said holding a private fashion show in an apartment for sale would be a perfect way to merge the two worlds.“I would definitely bring the spice to selling my apartment,” she said. “It’s like decoration, the women and dresses. They decorate the streets, so why can’t they decorate my apartment that I’m trying to sell?”
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week NYC runs through Sept. 13. For more information, visit www.mbfashionweek.com.