whats UP in chapel street ?
On a recent stroll along Melbourne’s Chapel Street fashion strip – between Toorak Rd South Yarra & High St Prahran – I counted 22 shops currently sitting “between tenancies”. Which sounds kind of romantic, but actually means there’s a small forest of “for lease” signs, with mail scattered across empty floors and cobwebs festooning across some doorways…
Chapel Street has been a “destination” for so many good years that it (she ?) might be considered the Grand Old Dame of Fashion & Style… not just in Melbourne but arguably all of Australia. She must still have one of the highest densities of no.1 retailers and brands in Melbourne – serious shoppers visiting this city have “Chapel Street” at the top of their smartphone note or memo lists.
We know that times are tough in Retail – the GFC (and now the Euro-crisis) continue to dampen enthusiasm for discretionary spending and cast long shadows across the balance sheets. Many traditional traders have suffered to the point of pulling up stumps in Chapel Street, whilst others have shown great confidence. Iconic UK retailer Topshop chose The Jam Factory as their toe-in to the Australian marketplace, Sportsgirl has just renovated at #516 and Ojay recently re-located further along the street.
The local traders’ association – Chapel Street Precinct – has recently launched a campaign amongst its’ 1500+ members (including yours-truly) to lobby City of Stonnington to save our strip – ie. commit to some serious town-planning and funding to improve infrastructure and return the Dame “to her former glory”
But let’s not be depressed about the empty shops and dwindling visitors – there’s a lot more life left in this strip of prime retail real estate. I’d say that Chapel Street is the perfect location for a pop up shop – not just fashion but for any product or brand looking to connect with the hippest shoppers in town. And I reckon the timing almost perfect. There are plenty of good locations vacant, real estate agents are starting to look at short term leasing opportunities – and consumers are hungry for something different !
images : popUPshops Melbourne
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