Hats off to new pop-up shops bringing buzz back to CBD

By Brendan Rees. Photos by John Tadigiri

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp says it’s time to ditch “online shopping carts” and head to the city to get your fashion fix.

It comes as two emerging Melbourne designers have recently breathed new life into empty shop fronts in the CBD – which Cr Capp said would help visitors “rediscover what our wonderful city has to offer” as it emerges out of lockdowns.

The artisans behind menswear brand Informale and headwear boutique The Millinery Collective will showcase their craftsmanship and vibrantly designed pop-up shops at Little Collins St.

The creative spaces, which opened in October, are the first of the $2.6 million Shopfront Activation Program, a partnership by the City of Melbourne and the state government which aims to fill empty shop fronts in the CBD, Docklands and Lygon St with artists and entrepreneurs. 

Rachel Henry of Henry Millinery united with design brands tHAT Millinery by Enza Geddes and Lisa Hughes Millinery to transform an empty space at the Victoria Hotel into something “beautiful”, offering headwear for formal events, parties, and daywear.

“It’s what your dreams are made of. All three of us are over the moon, we are so thankful,” she said, adding their new space was the perfect backdrop to display their bespoke designs. 

Ms Henry said they had jumped at the opportunity despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, declaring “You’ve just got to start saying yes to opportunities and just ride it and see where it takes you.” 

For Ms Geddes, the chance to setup a shop in the CBD was a “career highlight”. 

“It would be fair to say that millinery has been negatively impacted in the past two years with the coronavirus outbreak so when the opportunity to be part of the Melbourne shop activation was offered it was a definite yes,” she said. 

“With Fashion Week in full swing, seeing fashion enthusiasts visit us in-store and people returning to the city to shop, it’s a positive time for Melbourne’s retailers especially in the lead up to Christmas.”

A former tenant of the historic landmark Nicholas Building in Swanston St, Informale founder Steve Calder is now offering impeccably tailored casual menswear with a sense of European style at its new shop at 186 Little Collins St.

The Lord Mayor said, “We’re harnessing our wealth of creative and entrepreneurial talent, giving emerging artisans and start-ups a platform while cultivating a unique metropolitan experience that visitors can’t find anywhere but Melbourne.”

The council’s business and global opportunities portfolio lead, Cr Kevin Louey said “With about one in five shops in the municipality currently closed, this is an inventive way of bringing one-of-a-kind offerings and distinctive brands into the city while supporting our creative and start-up communities.”

Ginnane & Associates and Plan 1 Project Management and Consultancy are currently securing tenants and spaces in the CBD. For more information, visit the City of Melbourne website. 

Caption: Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp celebrates the opening of two new designer pop-up shops in the CBD with Steve Calder, founder of menswear brand Informale, and Enza Geddes, owner of tHAT Millinery.

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