On the up down under
Although often overshadowed by its coastal cousins, Canberra has a lot more going for it than you might think and is fast becoming ‘the new destination’ for artisans, designers, brands and retailers – chosen by influential Time Out magazine as one of the ‘coolest emerging’ cities in 2018.
In an attempt to shake off its sensible, stuffy reputation as the nation’s administrative capital, Canberra has been busy reinventing itself.
Originally set out like a concrete new town (something of a spectacularly scenic Australian Milton Keynes), many of its original buildings are currently being torn down and replaced by world-class residential, commercial and social spaces. A new Canberra is rising fast. With big investment clearly on offer and with a design aware, youthful population increasingly choosing to call this city home, Canberra’s importance as a retail destination is likely to only grow stronger.
Bison Home, G14/27 Lonsdale St, Braddon
One of the many notable independent producers to have set up shop recently, is hot local artisan brand Bison Home. Originally schooled in archeology, then trained in Scandinavia as a ceramicist and with a rich life history spanning the Middle East and Japan, the store is the brainchild of its talented CEO Brian Tunks. In Bison Home, Brian brings together his collective experience and creative vision with a stylish colourful range of serveware and authentic mouth blown glass. The brand’s latest shop is a cool, micro boutique located on the rapidly gentrifying and trendy spot, Lonsdale Street. It’s a very different retail space to the brand’s original Bison Home store – each delivers unique store experiences to different shopper profiles. Both, however, are perfectly in union with each other, offering a chic brand aesthetic, quality product line and attentive customer service.
Sportscraft, DF09/10 Canberra Centre, Bunda St
One of Australia’s biggest national clothing brands, the retailer opened a new store in the city’s main retail mall, the Canberra Centre, earlier this month. Combining menswear and womenwear offer under one roof, its new Sportscraft and SportscraftMan store is very good. VM is of a high standard with impactful coordinated product collections, simple presentation methods and a good use of heritage inspired display propping. Overall, it’s a well-designed boutique concept with a relaxed, quality look and feel that’s perfectly suited to the brand’s laid back ‘weekend’ aesthetic.
R. M. Williams, CF10-11 Canberra Centre, Bunda St
Another new store to note is the classic men’s clothing and footwear brand R. M. Williams. This modern smart casual brand has great handmade footwear area with inspired product storytelling and effective visual merchandising. Here, shoes are presented with authenticity and an elevated instore look confirming expertise in manufacturing and product quality. This is done to inspire shopper understanding in the shoe makers story, and does so in an inspiring, easy to follow way with just the right amount of grandeur. The store design reassures using warm earthy tones, natural wood, copper and real leather materials and skillfully integrates effective digital POS and service features. It’s also one of only a few footwear brands to offer a national product repair service.