I don’t know about you but shopping malls don’t do it for me at all! It is an American style that has always made me feel a little sad about the idea of shopping and as soon as I enter one of those big malls I start to feel instantly claustrophobic. Where did the boutique shops go or more to the point, where are they going? The world of retail shopping is changing at a rapid pace. The traditional way of shopping is fading fast as online becomes the number one retailer and Australia is now the 3rd biggest consumer online. As I drive around the streets of Sydney I cant help noticing the empty stores with lease signs. In little time the fickle world of fashion is turning yet another leaf! However I did breath some air the other day as I re-visited my favorite shopping haven in Sydney, The Strand Arcade. It is such an icon with it’s elegant features and it stays true to tradition with such a beautiful architecture created by the Englishman, John Spencer. After such a long time I became inspired again with boutiques that take you back in time and represent to you the artisanship behind fashion.Shopping in a place like The Strand Arcade is like a journey, each store tells a story and has an identity which is it’s own. The product is unique and beautiful rather than trendy and attached to the idea of branding via a world of celebrities and consumerism. Haigh’s Chocolates is an Australian family run business that has existed since 1915 and originated in Adelaide. The product is beautifully presented and behind the brand is a solid set of ethics and respect for the product. It is a treat to visit the store and see all the imaginative and creative ideas. Another wonderful fascination is Strand Hatters where it does almost feel like you are walking into another time, a period in which there was a wonderful dignity in dressing and the hat was of up most importance in that tradition. They have so many different varieties from the Top hat to the Fedoras and each has a time and a place.The Strand Arcade remains the haven it always has been when opened in 1892. Not only is it home to many niche boutiques such as Strand Hatters, The Nut Shop and Elie’s leather repair it also has been a starting point for some of Australia’s well known fashion designers such as Lisa Ho, Third Millenium and Sass & Bide. There is also one of Belinda Seper’s stores, The Corner Store which is a wonderland of imported brands including Carven and my favorite Isabel Marant.
Another treat in The Strand Arcade is Pendolino’s restaurant on the 3rd floor. Pendolino’s is well known for it’s home made pasta and olive oil. The olive oil is Australian made and there is an extensive range of fruity flavors that are well worth trying. The dining experience is intimate and comes with attention to detail with waiters that nurture every moment of your time making for a special experience. For an aperitivo or an alternative dining experience there is also La Rosa Bar on the 2nd floor which also offers a chic environment and a menu of lots of easy tastings. For a full directory on the stores in The Strand Arcade visit their web site; http://www.strandarcade.com.au X