Quietly confident and refreshingly open, Brisbane’s fashion scene is all about lifestyle sans ego. Here’s what you should know…
“There is this kind of high-brow casual dressing, where people are pairing basics like distressed denim and a crisp white shirt with really good shoes and accessories, that I think is really unique to us,” says Angelique Andronis, second-generation jewellery designer and owner of fine jewellery label BY BABY, when I ask her what she thinks Brisbane’s ‘look’ is.
We are standing on James Street – inside Angelique’s pop-up shop (that feels more chic New York gallery than jewellery store) – where the confluence of Brisbane’s fashion and lifestyle is on brilliant display on a classic autumn Sunday.
Despite the cool edge to the morning, the temperature has hit 27 degrees and people are out in force.
“I think [James Street] really captures what’s great about our Queensland lifestyle,” she says.
“It’s this beautiful outdoorsy feeling captured in a little hub where you can shop and eat and socialise.”
It’s a hub with shades of LA’s The Grove that both her and her family business call home. Angelique also manages Andronis Jewellery (visible across the carpark), which doubles as the design studio for both labels.
Comfort in an inscrutable climate is a variable, clearly, but it doesn’t have to equal boring, as local design savant Gail Sorronda proves, with her concept store a few doors down.
Her bold and darkly romantic creations were enough to inspire Karl Lagerfeld to announce her as one to watch in the early days of her career.
Between Gail Sorronda and BY BABY, Angelique tells me to check out Samantha Ogilvie (which is one of her favourites), where the racks hang with hard-to-find international labels like Jerome Dreyfuss, Missoni and Diane von Furstenberg.
Skipping around the corner, Zimmermann lures me in, before I make a pass at Mecca Cosmetica and fail in my goal of only browsing.
Across the road and in Maryon’s Shoes, a shrine to stunning investment footwear, it’s easier to stick to my no-purchase rule.
Camargue, two doors down, takes the more cerebral route – this is thinking girl’s fashion – and is one of the only boutiques in Brisbane to stock the likes of Dries van Noten, the riotously coloured Stella Jean, and Australian basics label, Bassike.
Next up, ‘It girl’ hub Calexico is a lustworthy collection of high-end labels like Isabel Marant and Alexander Wang.
Adjacent to Australian classicists Scanlan Theodore, tucked off James Street, it would be easy to lose hours in social media darling, Molten Store; a dreamy treasure trove of trinkets for ethereal, floaty girls everywhere.
Nonchalantly draped over clusters of crystals, there’s a universe of glittering accessories like delicate crowns and bejewelled ear jackets to buy.
For the love of vintage
On the more casual end of the spectrum, The Valley Markets pop up every weekend in Brunswick Street Mall, with independent designers and vintage stalls.
For serious vintage though, head to the city’s antique centres in Woolloongabba, Paddington, Commercial Road and Southside Antiques.
Brisbane has its share of multi-taskers too: Vintage Kitchen, Vintage Closet serves up breakfast and lunch surrounded by pre-loved frocks; in Woolloongabba, Can You Keep A Secret transforms from vintage boutique by day, to cool small bar by night; while in South Bank, Denim Co. cafe doubles as a boutique with labels like Shona Joy, Ellery and Bec & Bridge.
Cool kids, apply within
Moody may be the aesthetic in Fortitude Valley boutique Fallow, but the welcome is warm and friendly; a cheery “hello” rises from the corner as I enter.
Home to unisex clothing, accessories and curiosities, Fallow also holds regular exhibitions featuring designers and artisans from Brisbane, and around the world.
Head to the high street
The majority of what could be considered Brisbane’s high street sits along Queen Street Mall where recent, international additions to the shopping landscape like Zara, H&M and Uniqlo sit sandwiched in between off-shoot malls Wintergarden, QueensPlaza and Myer Centre.
Here and in the surrounding streets, you’ll find luxury labels like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, among others.