Adelaide Fashion Hub Well Worth Visiting
We took a stroll down Adelaide’s premier food, fashion and lifestyle hub to find out how the retail world has emerged, now that lock downs have lifted. What we discovered during warm and welcoming conversations with the retailers of Rundle Street East is that there’s an experience to enjoy for those who like to shop and for the partners who like to go with them.
Starting at the iconic Midwest Trader that’s been operating for close to 30 years, we followed the fashion path to eclectic women’s wear label Leonard St, then turned the corner past a couple of cool eateries to discover top Australian fashion labels virtually side-by-side. The line-up of retail outlets for luxe labels includes Flannel, Stephanie Chehade, Derma Department, Morrison, Aje, and Zimmerman to name just a few, alongside menswear labels Jack London and MJ Bale. There’s something to discover in each of them that you won’t find online.
Entering Midwest Trader at 1 Ebenezer Place is an immersion experience. Completely refurbished during the lockdown, you are now literally entering a log cabin complete with a stone fireplace, mounted deer heads and an array of neon signs and name plates gracing the walls along with all kinds of rock memorabilia.
Most of the stock is ungendered curated vintage, from the USA with some also from France. Out front is arguably the single largest pair of Levis jeans ever made that you have to see to believe.
Vintage Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, college jackets and band merchandise are staples. If you’re into cowboy boots, Midwest Trader is indispensable.
The look, smell and feel of this treasure trove of American heritage pieces and collectibles is authentic and if you’re into the thrill of the retail hunt, visiting is a must. It’s clear that a lot of love has gone into both the clothing on offer and the Western vibe. Partners Kate Tomkins and Jarrad Green and their team are obviously happy to welcome visitors to their curated space that could almost double for the set of an American cowboy western. As Jarrad says, you’ve got to come in to “see, smell, feel and try out” the experience on offer that you just can’t get online.
A little further along the street at 22 Ebenezer Place, eclectic Leonard St is all about attentive personal service. Fully stocked with the latest from its Melbourne design studio, clothing in Leonard St’s signature prints are offered up alongside must-have fashion accessories of the moment, face masks. The sustainable and minimal-waste-minded label provides accessories of all kinds in matching prints made from off cuts, including headbands, scrunchies, tote bags and earrings. Browsing is enjoyable – you never know what cute addition you’ll find to go with that piece you’re getting.
Each of the attentive team at Leonard St we’ve met and got to know, Tessa, Anna and Briana, are incredibly helpful and at pains to provide a rewarding experience. It’s Briana who’s on deck on the day we photograph.
Not sure what it is about this little boutique, but it’s easy to make friends with fellow shoppers too, if you’re so inclined. While the usual wine nights are taking a back seat during Covid-19 times, the store is flush with new stock and latest offerings. Our take: this team is building a community.
No need to cross the road, as a few steps further along the same side of the street, popular newcomer Flannel will be celebrating its first anniversary in Adelaide at the end of August. There will be bubbles!
Offering a design aesthetic for which Flannel has become renowned, the Adelaide store is a captivating space. Soft colour palettes and silk sets frame the scene for a fashion interaction.
On the day we visit, one of the doyennes of professional styling in Adelaide, Lucy MacGill, is available to assist in putting that perfect outfit together. Lucy and the “Flannel Girls” are available to style your entire look, including your own pieces from home. It’s all added value as the team at Flannel explore with you the versatility of each piece you’re interested in, ensuring that the overall effect works for you.
There’s a lot on offer at this beautiful, aesthetically calming space that is just not possible to experience online. More than merely selecting the right size, the “Flannel Girls” are there to help you style your look in ways you hadn’t thought of.
Right next door to Flannel, Jack London’s retail outlet is arguably one of Australia’s busiest menswear outlets. With Melbourne in lock down, the Adelaide store is virtually full to the brim – there’s so much to choose from! Fully stocked with the latest offerings, this store caters for all sizes, ranging from size 26 waist to size 44 jackets. It’s rare to find such a range available in one store.
With a rock aesthetic invoking the Beatles and the Rolling Stones via iconic black and white framed wall mounts, menswear shopping has never been so cool.
The team at Jack London are well-versed in menswear styling. So whether you’re pressed for time or would prefer to take things a little more slowly and indulgently, they are adept at putting together looks that suit from head-to-toe. Observing them at work, we have to share that this is a team that will help you feel comfortable while looking your best. Dan and his team manage to be super cool and incredibly nice at the same time, because they absolutely know their stuff.
Only a few doors down, bubbly fashion designer Catherine Maglaris is personally introducing fashion buyers to her expanded fashion line of prints and textures in her Derma Department range of luxury silhouettes.
In her new retail space that is both beautiful and carefully curated, Catherine personally welcomes visitors to her new store. Having the designer on hand to help when needed provides a rare opportunity to discuss suitable fashion selections and why they will work well. Full of warmth and good humour, Catherine adds to the experience on Friday nights with “Friday night fun” where fashionistas and their friends are offered champagne.
Partners and husbands are welcomed by Catherine to sit a while in comfortable lounge chairs, expanding shopping into an enjoyable experience, rather than just a transaction.
For those shopping online, Derma Department is offering the click and collect option. But seriously, you’d be missing out if you didn’t meet the ebullient designer herself in her own fashionable environment. Here you have the luxury of being styled by the glamorous creative herself while finding out more about the garments themselves from the person who designed them.
Right next door stands the retail outlet for eponymous local fashion label Stephanie Chehade. Once again, having the opportunity to meet the designer herself is such a bonus when you can chat with Stephanie about the pieces you’re trying on. Stephanie knows what’s in, what’s versatile, what you’re going to get most wear out of, what works and what doesn’t. If you’re into edgy and luxe, you need to meet Stephanie and see what she’s offering.
About her spacious new digs, Stephanie recommends coming in and trying things on, promising you’ll be surprised at how well the garment that looks good on an Instagrammer will actually look on you too. Sharing little secrets of design and why her garments are so flattering, it’s helpful to find out more about the clothing details as you’re assisted by the designer herself. Her stretch fabrics and great cuts are the secret to flattering silhouettes, we’re told, along with attention to design details.
It’s worth coming into the Stephanie Chehade store not just to meet the designer herself, but to be able to check out the quality of each piece before buying. Stephanie’s thing for super cool design means that coming into her store is a refreshing opportunity to update your look and be fashionably informed at the same time.