Open since 1976, Dakota 501 has seen a lot of change on Chapel Street. Offering a select range of men’s and women’s denim and casual wear, it’s found a formula that works. But following difficulties with its landlord, the shop announced it would be closing last Christmas. Now its back – just a little further down the street.
Co-owner Julianne Godby explains, “At one point, [we] thought, ‘We’ve had a good innings – 38 or 39 years – we might close down.’” The reaction that met her and her husband, Martin, after announcing the closure compelled them to go on. “There was a huge groundswell of support,” she says, “not only from the brands we stock, but also the customers. To the point where it got me looking for another site.”
Despite losing its 501 address in South Yarra and moving (barely a kilometre) down the street towards Windsor, Godby describes the move as a kind of homecoming. “This end of Chapel Street reminds us of what it used to be like. [It’s] much more community spirited.” She is critical of how the street’s northern end has developed, with high-margin retailers pricing out independent stores that served the local community. She feels the new location is a better fit for the shop.
Housed in a heritage-listed building, Godby says the new fit-out has simply highlighted the pre-existing character of the space, including the high ceilings, interior brick walls and exposed loft-veranda.
They stock many of the same labels as before (Carhartt, Mr Simple, Fred Perry, L’America, Vanishing Elephant), although some have been cut to make space for new brands such as lingerie label Lonely Hearts which has a, “Huge following” and is due to arrive in September.
245 Chapel Street, Prahran
(03) 9529 5546
Monday to Thursday 10am–6pm