Posts Tagged ‘Tourism Victoria’

Tourism Victoria

 

ALREADY beloved of hipsters and fashionistas, Melbourne is now making a name for itself as Australia’s headquarters of vintage glamour. From faux speakeasy bars to full skirts and cut-throat barbers, the city it seems is adrift on nostalgia.

Typified in the immaculately cut, full-skirted ’50s and ’60s-style frocks worn to such effect in TV’s Mad Men, the vintage look (roughly spanning 1920 to the mid-’60s) may even be going mainstream. ”A couple years ago it was almost taboo to buy second-hand but now it’s cool to mix second-hand fashion with new fashion,” says associate professor Karen Webster, co-program director of fashion in RMIT’s school of Architecture and Design.

And while the vintage phenomenon is a worldwide trend, she says, it ”may be stronger in Melbourne than elsewhere. Melbourne has had a creative spirit for a long time and has been perceived as a style city since the turn of the century.” Vintage is also considerably cheaper here than in Paris or New York, she says.

Tourism Victoria, recognising that vintage tourism is a drawcard, is harnessing the trend to build upon the city’s reputation as Australia’s favourite shopping destination, promoting vintage clothing, markets and even tours on its site. ”Melbourne is recognised as the home of vintage within Australia,” says Tourism Minister Louise Asher, ”and there are a growing number of tour operators, retailers and hospitality venues leveraging these credentials, which in turn broadens awareness and furthers the vintage trend.”

Roy Morgan research quoted by Tourism Victoria shows that 59 per cent of people already believe Melbourne is the best place for shopping in Australia, leading Sydney at 36 per cent. And with Melbourne also recognised as the city with the most interesting cafes, bars and nightclubs, retailers are keen to push home this advantage.

”I think Melbourne is the best place in the country for vintage style in general,” says Nicole Jenkins who runs Circa Vintage, a Fitzroy clothing store. ”It’s a Melbourne look to have 1950s table in cafes and the clothing thing is part of the whole phenomenon. We have a high acceptability, especially in the inner city, of people wearing vintage clothes. I get a lot of customers from Sydney; some come straight from the airport to the shop.”

Red lippie, beehive hairstyles and recycled clothing are standard uniform on a ”Vintage Outing” hosted by 1950s characters Betty and Miss Shirley for tour company Hidden Secrets. The four-hour tour in old Fiats visits vintage boutiques and has attracted tourists from New Zealand, interstate and country Victoria.

There is even a new vintage foodies tour, scheduled to start in late November, that pays homage to the Italian food legacy inherited by Melbourne. It will include visits to old cafes and lunch with a nonna who will share her family recipes.

”Vintage is as much about the way we serve our food as anything else,” says Fiona Sweetman who runs Hidden Secrets. ”There’s currently a real flavour for taking a step back in time.”

RMIT’s Karen Webster says trend forecasters say this ”blurring of boundaries” is the way of the future.

”The vintage phenomena around the world is embedded in the push for sustainability. There’s a culture of people buying recycled. People are starting to question how we purchase things and are caught up with this notion of disposability. The vintage thing has no age boundaries. It is people reconsidering the way they wear clothes and buy other products.”

Men, too, are embracing the city’s burgeoning vintage fashion scene.

Thom Grogan’s Captains of Tourism Victoria Industry in the city is a ”gentlemen’s outfitter and cafe” that picks up on vintage style. It provides everything from homemade ginger beer, to cut-throat shaves in the barber’s room, bespoke suits and hand-stitched made-to-measure shoes that start from $1000.

”The interest in vintage and the vintage way of making things is strong,” Mr Grogan says.

Vintage style has also taken hold in some of Melbourne’s newest bars, such as South Yarra’s deco-style Red Bennies which hosts cabaret, circus and burlesque shows. Other bars in the mould include 1806, Madame Brussels, The Estelle, The Butterfly Club, Lily Blacks, 24 Moons, and The Everleigh which specialises in classic cocktails in a so-called speakeasy setting (speakeasy bars were illicit drinking clubs during America’s Prohibition era in the 1920s and ’30s).

In vintage style, ice at The Everleigh is hand cut to suit the drink. The recipes come from a library of first-edition cocktail books, some dating back to the turn of the century, that are on display near the bar. ”Our most popular cocktail is the Manhattan [rye whiskey, bitters and sweet vermouth],” says Lauren Schell who runs the Fitzroy bar with husband Michael Madrusan.

”We’re keen to retain the speakeasy style,” says Ms Schell. ”The darkness of it, the table service, the romance.”

Nicole Jenkins of Circa loves the vintage aspects of The Everleigh, but, she admits, ”it’s so dark I tell my friends to wear lipstick so we can see each other”.