A take on menswear shopping- Australia

October 27, 2009

Sometimes I feel that I have to stop complaining about the sad state of men’s fashion in Malaysia.
I just came back from a holiday in Sydney and Melbourne, and the selection of menswear there seems even more limited in certain ways. Of course, being a tourist I may have been window-shopping at the wrong places. That said, my observations are that the mens clothing I come across are either limited/expensive/basic.

In terms of the high street, I found men’s clothes in shops like Jeans West, Country Road and Energie rather bland and simple (and given the skyrocketing exchange rate, not worth my Malaysian ringgit). Maybe it’s an Australian thing though, as I observe that many men there tend to be dressed in decidedly subtle/simple basics like distressed plain tees, deconstructed cardigans, skinny denim/shorts and plimsolls. And almost always in monochrome.

On the designer front, I can’t be a fair judge for I didn’t spend much time in such shops. It’s a shame that while in Sydney, I didn’t have enough time to discover what was on offer for the menfolk in Oxford St and the like. However, I did manage to squeeze in some window shopping time in Melbourne on my last day, where I proceeded to Little Collins St that was purportedly the centre for menswear in Melbourne. Other than Assin and the shop that stocked Fred Perry, the remainder of the shops were mainly formal/officewear shops, tailors, proper shoe shops etc. Small yawn.

All is not lost as there were a couple of highlights:

I loved Assin. It’s the first time I got to see in person the clothes I’ve only heard mentioned in websites and forums- Lanvin, Dior Homme, Rick Owens, MMM, KvA, Ann Dem. Each item so precious, beautiful, sometimes unwearable and for a Malaysian tourist, so ridiculously out of budget. It was a great place to dream, still.

…and Cotton On! Towards my final days of my holiday and with no new clothes to speak of (unless the Havaianas count -PS: they’re cheaper in Oz), the only place that I found reasonably priced clothes were Roger David(?). That was, until I discovered Cotton On. They may be considered the Giordano of Down Under, selling mostly inexpensive basics, but the selection of stuff seems surprisingly good at that price point. I was tempted to get quite a few items, until something caught my eye, the price tags had prices in Malaysian ringgit as well! To my glee, I found out from the sales assistant that they had just opened branches in Malaysia- One Utama, Sunway Pyramid and Pavilion. I was looking forward to buying the stuff I wanted from the KL branches.

My experiences around Australia was too limited to give conclusive observations of the true scenario down under. For instance, I didn’t get to visit the local Aussie designer boutiques (eg Romance was born), nor did I get to visit any weekend markets. I didn’t even get to see Myer’s men’s department.
But one thing’s for sure, they haven’t got H&M, Zara, Topshop, Club Monaco, Gap, Banana Republic in the Australian high street. And for that I was glad to be back in KL!

And so my final stash after my Aussie trip consisted of:
1) Black havaianas (not pictured)
2) Plaid shirt from Cotton On
3) Custom Fit Polo from Ralph Lauren (at a price impossible to get in KL)

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