SYDNEY — A problem shared is a problem halved — or in the case of new Sydney retail collective Our Store, a problem divided by six.
Opening on Saturday in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, Our Store is the brainchild of Croatian-Australian designer Karla Spetic.
A regular on the runways of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia since 2008 and known for her feminine tailoring and unique prints, Spetic has teamed with five other brands to pool resources to lease and fit-out a 237-square-foot boutique at 37 Elizabeth Street.
All but two of the brands are Sydney-based. There is also Gary Bigeni, new luxury lingerie line Âme Nue Intimates, Venice jewelry and Melbourne footwear brand Post Sole Studio.
Italian sustainable eyewear brand Pagani is the only international label and will be represented by its Australian distributor Umberto Ianni.
The cost of the fit-out was 200 Australian dollars, or $142 apiece, with all work done by the designers and their friends.
The Sydney partners will also take turns staffing the store.
“That was the idea, to keep the overheads down to offer a really unique retail experience — we can have a one-on-one connection with our customers,” Spetic said.
The kernel of the idea came from The Graduate Store, a short-lived retail incubator initiative launched by Sydney’s Fashion Design Studio in the city’s Strand Arcade in 2007, to promote the work of six of its graduates at a time. Spetic was one of the founding designers.
Our Store is only Spetic’s second bricks-and-mortar foray since The Graduate Store.
Seventy percent of her business is done via her e-boutique, with current wholesale stockists including Koibird in London and Fashion on Top in Shanghai.
“I really wanted something a little bit different than just having a retail shop and getting staff in there and having to fork out 1,200 to 1,500 dollars [$855 to $1,069] a week in rent and wages,” Spetic said.
“I do everything myself and my business is so tightly operated by me and it’s all made in Australia,” she added. “I never had investors. So I just thought it would be such a nice way to be able to do that [retail] and for everybody really. Let’s see if it works.”