Walking into Alpha60’s new store is a religious experience. Literally.
The Melbourne fashion label’s tenth store opened a couple of weeks ago in Chapter House on Flinders Lane, an elegant and lofty hall adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral.
“We weren’t looking for a new space, the space just kind of found us,” says Alex Cleary, who co-founded the label with his sister Georgie. “When it came up, we just couldn’t resist.”
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Entering from Flinders Lane, the city noise is immediately hushed. As you follow the trail of mannequins up two flights of stairs, even the sound of your footsteps disappears into the carpet.
Tall ceilings soar into concave peaks; stained-glass windows flood the space with light, and an army of nearly 30 mannequins creates the look of a particularly fashionable church service.
The change rooms are huge, neon-lit spaces. Which is good, because there’s more to try on. Not only does the spaciousness of Chapter House allow the 11-year-old label to display its entire collection – including pieces that have previously only been stocked overseas – but it also lets the designers make more products.
“Before we were limited by space, but now we’ve got as much as we need,” says Alex. “We can make more handbags and more shoes and actually have room to display them.
“For us, coming up with ideas has never been the hard part. It’s been limiting them.”
There are also plans to make use of the piano that came with the location, and the otherworldly cathedral acoustics. “We’re talking with a few different bands and musicians to do acoustic performances in the space, as well as performances with choirs. [The acoustics] are definitely something we can take advantage of.”
They also plan to work with artists and include a gallery in the store. “We also plan to revitalise the stairwell, and make the trip up more dynamic with triggered videos and sound-based installations,” Alex says.
The location also comes with a commercial kitchen and a liquor licence. In the near future, a lounge area will be added so that people can come with their friends and enjoy a glass of prosecco. “It will be more of a token gesture than a wine bar. We want it to be a real luxury shopping experience, without the luxury price.”
Chapter House marks a new era for Alpha60. By offering one place to browse the entire collection, it brings the comprehensive choice of online shopping to a bricks-and-mortar store. Except the internet doesn’t have vaulted ceilings. Or prosecco.
Alpha60 Chapter House
Level 2, 195 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000
(03) 9663 3002
Mon to Sat 10am–6pm