In a bright corner of Curtin House you’ll find Pet Shop Girls (PSG), a store that brings an explosion of Tokyo colour to Melbourne.
Giant sandstone hand sculptures tower in the middle of the store, which opened in February, and stickers colour the windows looking out onto Swanston Street below.
The brains behind the operation, Chiara Ippoliti, has spent considerable time in Japan, honing her knowledge and love for the country and its fashion. After her first trip to Tokyo seven years ago, Ippoliti found she wasn't able to find her favourite labels in Australia or online. Inspired by what she had seen and frustrated by the lack of Japanese fashion at home, she set about opening a store that delivered her favourite pieces to the growing number of Melburnians with a craving for Tokyo street fashion.
While other more established Japanese brands such as BAPE, Commes des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto already have a significant presence in Australia, PSG is all about the hard to find. Ippoliti’s sense of Nippon style has translated into a perfectly considered selection of Japanese labels, such as Merci Beaucoup, Frapbois, Zucca, NeNet, Belly Button and cult-favourites from Wakatsuki Chinatsu. PSG’s online store, which is opening soon, will make the trip to Tokyo even easier.
The magic is in the detail and the unexpected here. Moustaches are found on hats and polka dot rain jackets sit alongside intricate prints. Baggy pants are matched with busy floral patterns and heavily embellished flatforms.
By her own admission, Ippoliti is attracted to “any label that is a little bit crazy and a little bit kawaii”, but the pieces here are functional rather than gratuitously girly. Ippoliti herself is always on hand to explain the best way to incorporate a new piece into the rest of your wardrobe.
With a strong emphasis on colour, layers and patterns, PSG delivers on both the eccentric – Tsumori Chisato cat-eye sunglasses – and the eclectic.
In a town that takes its black very seriously, Pet Shop Girls has arrived just in time to remind us that fashion is still lots of fun.
Pet Shop Girls
Level 3, Curtin House, 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne
0420 373 116
Mon to Sat noon–6pm