Sydney Fashion Week: eight stylish shopping neighbourhoods in the city to check out
Australia’s biggest city is experiencing a retail renaissance, and as its fashion week gets under way, we survey the best places to shop there, from established Castlereagh Street to ultra-modern Barangaroo
Sydney is a construction site at the moment. On the plus side, there has never been a better time to shop in the city.
International brands continue to flock Down Under, chasing growth in a country whose population is booming, thanks to record immigration rates. Net migration rose 27 per cent in the 12 months to June 2017, the fastest in the developed world, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and among the highest for any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
International tourism and education are also booming, with Chinese tourists and students accounting for a significant percentage in both sectors. According to global business intelligence leader IBISWorld, sales of personal luxury goods rose 11 per cent year on year to A$1.8 billion in 2017.
An unprecedented A$62 billion is being pumped into Sydney’s central business district through upgrades to transport infrastructure and office, hotel and residential developments, as Australia’s biggest city gears up for a projected 48 per cent growth in its population, to 7.4 million people, over the next 30 years.
Sydney Fashion Week starts on Monday, and the schedule is stacked full of the country’s best designers, which has put the city in the style spotlight even more.
Late last year saw the opening of sections of the newly pedestrianised George Street Boulevard, which is the main artery of the district. Luxury behemoths Louis Vuitton and Burberry had already decamped there in 2011. Both tripled the size of their original flagship stores in the city’s traditional luxury precinct of Castlereagh Street, which is now packed to the gills.
Then there’s the new, futuristic Barangaroo, an A$8 billion harbourfront development on the site of a former shipping container yard.
Just four minutes undercover from the district via the new Wynyard Walk, the 22-hectare precinct includes office towers, luxury flats, bars, restaurants, and boutiques; in 2021, Sydney’s second casino, the 71-storey Crown Sydney Hotel Resort, will open there.
Louis Vuitton saw the writing on the wall in 1986, capitalising on that decade’s Japanese tourism boom to open Australia’s first free-standing luxury store on the corner of Castlereagh and King Streets. Thirty-two years later the precinct is considered Australia’s premier destination for international luxury retail, with brands now spilling down into Martin Place and Market, Pitt, York and George Streets.
They include the top European luxury brands and local fine jewellers J Farren-Price, Hardy Brothers and Jan Logan.
Westfield Sydney also boasts a series of big Gucci, Prada, Miu Miu and Ermenegildo Zegna stores down its Castlereagh Street flank, opposite department store David Jones.
Yet more luxury brands are tucked inside Westfield Sydney’s 350-plus store offer, including Christian Louboutin and the Harrolds emporium, plus Australian designers such as Zimmermann, Sass & Bide and Alice McCall.
Once the wraps come off David Jones’ A$200 million facelift in 2019, Westfield will start converting David Jones’ old 77 Market Street menswear and homewares store, which is directly opposite, into another 10,000 sq m of multilevel luxury.
Pitt Street Mall
Anchored by Westfield Sydney and the Sydney flagships of the Myer department store chain, Pitt Street Mall – a bustling, pedestrianised 200-metre shopping strip running between Market and King Streets – was already ranked among the world’s 10 most expensive shopping strips before the opening of the first stage of Westfield Sydney in 2010. It has since soared as high as world No 5, with rents spiking thanks to an influx of international brands.
The mall boasts Zara, Zara Home, H&M, Uniqlo, Forever 21, Sephora, Tag Heuer and Australian fast fashion chains such as Cotton On, Sportsgirl, Portmans, Cue and Witchery as well as sneaker specialist Hype DC.
The mall also feeds into multiple shopping arcades, two of which – The Galeries and The Strand Arcade – lead through to George Street, which runs parallel and is undergoing its own renaissance.
Several sections of the formerly traffic-choked George Street are undergoing a A$2.1 billion facelift which, by 2019, will see them transformed into leafy, pedestrianised George Street Boulevard, complete with Light Rail – a new train system for the city. Ready to greet what some are already calling “the new Pitt Street mall” are global brands, including Burberry (343), Louis Vuitton (365), Apple (367) and Nike (319), plus local street wear chain General Pants’ (413-412) biggest Australian store.
Three must-see arcades that front the street are The Galeries (500) for contemporary designer stores including Incu, Gorman and Alpha60, the Victorian era Strand Arcade (412-414) and Queen Victoria Building (455).
The Strand Arcade boasts a large number of Australian designer boutiques, including Dion Lee, Alex Perry, Manning Cartell, Camilla and Marc, Ginger & Smart, P Johnson Tailors, Scanlan Theodore, plus Australian beauty emporium Mecca Cosmetica.
At the larger QVB you will find brands including Salvatore Ferragamo, Bally, Furla, Michael Kors and Australians Camilla, Country Road, Oroton, Helen Kaminski, M.J. Bale menswear and R.M. Williams. The QVB’s lower ground floor houses Shu Uemura’s only stand-alone store in Australia, alongside sneaker specialist Hype DC, plus Onitsuka Tiger and Asics.
Sydney’s newest commercial and entertainment district is a must-see. The development’s completed Barangaroo South end boasts three sleek Richard Rogers-designed office towers that will eventually house 23,000 office workers, plus a retail precinct called The Streets of Barangaroo that is groaning with new bars, restaurants and around a dozen fashion and lifestyle stores.
The latter include David Jones’ first small format store (20/300 Barangaroo Avenue), featuring a curated selection of its fashion, beauty and accessories brands in a 1,396 sq m space, including Chanel, Valentino, Chloé, Paul Smith, Dion Lee, Zimmermann, Bassike, M.A.C and Tom Ford.
Other stores include Belancé’s made-to-measure tailoring (1/3 Sussex Street); Shirt Bar (Scotch Row), a bar meets business attire boutique for men and women; and The Waiting Room (Shipwright Walk), for indie labels from the US, Europe and Australia, including Garrett Leight, Eton Shirts and Royal Republic.
Entering via Oxford Street, immediately east of the central business district, is the vibrant inner city suburb of Darlinghurst or “Darlo”, which is teeming with tiny, funky stores, nestled among a score of cafes, bars and art galleries.
A mini Mecca for street wear and sneakers, with stores such as Throwback (70), Above The Clouds (205) and, at the Riley Street intersection, the hipster hub of 20 Burton Street, home to stores for Carhartt, P.A.M., Feit handmade footwear and notably, Supply Store, which boasts one of the best international streetwear brand curations in Australia.
Then there is a Sydney bespoke tailoring icon, the 123-year-old G.A. Zink & Sons (56 Oxford Street) – complete with its fabulous original art deco facade, and Crown Street for back-to-back vintage stores, including Route 66 (255), Storeroom Vintage (257), Cream on Crown (32/277), U-turn (33/277), C’S Flashback (314) and Zoo Emporium (180 Campbell Street).
Oxford Street, Paddington
A leafy shopping strip peppered with quaint Victorian terrace houses and home to the Paddington Markets, Oxford Street was previously one of Australia’s most exciting fashion hubs. However, after the opening of two Westfields just 6km apart in Bondi Junction and the district between 2004 and 2010, for a while there you could almost see tumbleweed rolling down the strip, due to all the empty shops.
With a space crunch and skyrocketing rents in the city centre, the strip is now having a major revival, with dozens of boutique and bar openings.
They include the spectacular Parlour X (261), a 3,073 sqft emporium of international luxury brands located inside an old church and new double-fronted stores for both Australian fine jeweller Robert Clerc (418-420) and Incu (256-258). The Intersection – located at the Glenmore Road intersection – is an enclave of 30 mostly Australian designer boutiques, including KitX (108), Scanlan Theodore (122), Alice McCall (134), Zimmermann (2/2-16 Glenmore Road) and Ellery (213 Glenmore Road).
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Before Castlereagh Street and Westfield Bondi Junction crashed the party, cosmopolitan Double Bay used to be considered the Rodeo Drive of Sydney. Located 5km from the city centre on Sydney Harbour, this charming village is the gateway to theaffluent Eastern Suburbs and is also undergoing a renaissance, with the InterContinental hotel opening in late 2019 and A$600 million in new luxury apartment projects under way.
Among all the cafes, bars and Transvaal Avenue’s chic interiors stores such as My Island Home (5), Busatti (9) and Maison et Jardin (15A), you will find local beauty names Mecca Cosmetica (2-22 Knox Street) and Napoleon Perdis (2 Knox Street), plus Australian designer stores such as Scanlan Theodore (45A Bay Street), Bassike (G24/2-22A Knox Street), Husk (22 Knox Street) and chic luxury children’s wear boutique Adrienne and the Misses Bonney (55 Bay Street).
There’s also Cosmopolitan Shoes (1-5/2-22 Knox Street), Stuart Weitzman (37 Knox Street) and luxury multi-brand stores, including Christensen Copenhagen and Shirley B (1 and 2 Guilfoyle Avenue), Appartamento 57 (vintage luxury – Shop 4/17 Knox Street) and Belinda (8 Transvaal Ave).
Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, Paris, London, Miami, Los Angeles … Bondi Beach? When Louis Vuitton chose Sydney as the eighth global city for its Supreme collaboration capsule unveiling last July, the luxury juggernaut picked hipster hotspot Bondi Beach for the pop-up.
You don’t normally find luxury brands at Bondi Beach – that said, Louis Vuitton and Chanel have opened stores 3km back up Bondi Road at Westfield Bondi Junction, with Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo soon to join them – but what you will find is a score of cool boutiques, plus the Bondi Market on Sundays.
Head to Gould Street for the gorgeous pink-toned Playa store by jeweller Lucy Folk (3/11-13 Hall Street, enter via Gould). Others stores worth a visit include: Tuchuzy (90); Jac + Jack luxury knitwear (3/82-92); Ixiah (77c); Museum Clothing (124 Roscoe & Gould); Orlebar Brown (79); The People Vs (82/92); New Zealand’s Huffer (96); and New York’s Saturdays NYC (L08/180-186 Campbell Parade, enter via Gould).
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Nearby there is kaleidoscopic Australian resort wear brand Camilla (132A Warners Avenue) and bikini and surf wear stores galore along beach-front Campbell Parade, including Baku (38), Bondi Surf Co (80), Sunburn (178) and Bondi Born (180).