Reviewing the top Melbourne retail openings of 2019, one thing becomes clear: custom fashion is back. Many labels are slowing things down, focusing on sustainability and returning to old tailoring traditions. We’ve also seen some new approaches to sneaker retail, signalling that streetwear is still very much at the core of what consumers want.
Here are some of our favourite new Melbourne shops so far this year, which offer attentive service and innovative concepts.
Nairobi-born, Melbourne-based sisters Laurinda and Fatuma Ndenzako are behind this eclectic boutique, which stock clothes and jewellery by female-only designers. Since 2015, they’ve been bringing tribal weaving, batik prints and bold, earthy colours to Melbourne. The pair initially sold their garments online before opening their first bricks-and-mortar store at the Queen Victoria Market in June this year. The shop stocks the sisters’ own garments and accessories alongside a curated selection of labels owned by women, including Ella Badu’s Ghana-inspired jewellery and Shannyn Lorkin’s luxury knits. Many of the designs are produced in small runs with the aim of minimising waste.
After several booked-out trunk shows in Melbourne and Sydney, P Johnson alumna and local designer Emily Nolan has opened a permanent boutique selling custom women’s suiting. In a renovated shipping container hidden in a garden in Melbourne’s east, E Nolan hosts private appointments to measure up your dream design.
L’Eclisse’s in-house shoe label, Conflict of Interest, also supplies Italian-made “Princess” shoes, which come in soft suede and crystals. And you can also accessorise your suit with handmade jewels from Bella Clark, too.
The E Nolan Dressing Room address will be disclosed after you secure an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting the website.
First Principles, by ex-investment bankers Rannia Al-Salihi and Supriya Dixit, is one of the first Melbourne labels to specialise in custom Japanese denim.
The flagship arrived on Little Collins Street in November 2018, offering Melburnians the opportunity to be measured up with a trained specialist. From there, the individual’s digital patterns are stored in an online database, allowing customers to use a three-dimensional “curate tool” from the comfort of their home for future purchases. “We’re not asking you to come in for every pair,” says Al-Salihi. “We capture the full suite of measurements and can apply it to any style from there on.”
After opening its Collins Street flagship last year, Italian luxury fashion house Bottega Veneta has set up shop at Chadstone Shopping Centre.
Known for its shoes, woven bags and clutches, the label has recently reinvented itself with the appointment of Daniel Lee (formerly right-hand man to Celine’s Phoebe Philo) as creative director. Its cult square-toe leather sandals are available in-store – but not for long.
This sneaker-and-fashion retailer from Sydney opened a combined gallery and sneaker concept store in Melbourne’s Russell Street in April this year, in a cavernous space that previously housed Bodhi & Ride’s spin and Pilates classes.
The subterranean store includes a gallery space for events and product launches, and a boutique selling an assortment of both Australian and international streetwear and sneaker labels, from Melbourne-born PAM, to South Korea’s Ader Error.
Melbourne’s Fiona Myer opened her first Australian store in March this year, taking over the Durance space on High Street in Armadale. The opening marks White Story’s transition to fully-fledged fashion label, with elegant separates and accessories in earthy, muted colours. Previously, the only physical interaction you could have with the label was by appointment at its Projects of Imagination-designed warehouse in Cremorne.
Since opening on Chapel Street in 1987, Scanlan has survived countless changes in the Australian fashion industry, helping to dress women for all occasions for more than three decades.
Now the label has introduced a Brighton boutique (its sixth in Melbourne), which is spread across two storeys, featuring the same industrial elegance of its other locations.
Complete with sandstone, dark timber and repurposed terracotta, the first shopfront for trans-seasonal womenswear label Elka (which launched online in 2015) feels almost like a luxury villa in Spain or Italy, except it’s at the Windsor end of Chapel Street.
Designer Courtney Price’s pieces marry natural materials with interesting textures, resulting in timeless garments for the modern woman. In 2017, Elka was bought by Brand Collective – which also owns Mossimo, Superdry and others – and Price transitioned to a freelance creative consultant role.
This recent arrival (also to Chadstone Shopping Centre) doesn’t operate like most traditional sneaker stores. It sells second-hand trainers – which look brand new – from sought-after labels including Off White, Supreme and Bape, sourced from the private collections of sneaker aficionados.
It was 27-year-old Edwin Low who came up with the idea to source by consignment – people drop off second-hand (but well-kept) cult or limited-edition shoes, which are then sold in-store or online.
“We’re basically a platform. People who [are] lucky enough to [own] limited-edition, high-end streetwear from UK, Japan, USA and Australia can bring the item in-store,” says Low. “We agree on a sale price and then display the item … We take 20 per cent of the sale price and the original owner keeps the other 80 per cent."