In 2017, The Atlantic was just one of many publications to immortalise the term “retail apocalypse”. US stores such as Macy’s and Sears had suffered mass store closures which experts believed was the beginning of the end for brick-and-mortar shop fronts across the globe. Ever since, these industry insiders have been toing and froing on opinion of retail, with the rest of us are asking: are brick-and-mortar stores really dead?
While we can’t answer the burgeoning question for certain, a recent study conducted by Afterpay found that during lockdown, two thirds (66%) of young Australian shoppers missed being able to physically look and feel the products they were buying.
Given our reentry into society, it is apt timing that the buy now, pay later platform in partnership with Vicinity Centres and Australian Fashion Council launched the Edit Collection this month. A new store featuring four of Australia’s top emerging brands and the latest in retail technology. The first of its kind experiential retail space – housed at Chatswood Chase in Sydney – will offer a cutting edge customer experience with technologies such as shoppable change room mirrors, gesture controlled screens, a digital assistant to shoot and share selfies, and eTale chips which immediately deliver data on the most-engaged, most-tried and most-sold pieces to the business.
“We want to be the driver of all in-store decisions in retail,” Simon Molnar, CEO and co-founder of eTale (and brother to Afterpay co-founder Nick Molnar) tells GRAZIA. “We want to provide insights to retailers that they never knew were even possible. The goal is to create an ecosystem that fuels and drives bricks-and-mortar retail so that it can grow and thrive, especially after a tough period due to COVID.”
The first Australian designer to showcase in the Edit Collection is resort wear label, Bondi Born. The brand was founded by Dale McCarthy in Sydney and is inspired by elegant and contemporary Australian style. Bondi Born is a certified B Corporation label with an unwavering commitment to quality, ethics and sustainability. According to the designer, there are many sustainable benefits to physical stores.
“There are many ways that our shopping habits can help us make sustainable purchase decisions,” McCarthy says. “Hopefully, we make more considered decisions when we can touch, feel and try on the garment. It reduces the carbon cost of returns.”
She continues, “Also, not all websites fully disclose information about a garment – like where it’s made or where the fabric is from. I have often been disappointed when I buy a luxury garment online and only find out when it’s delivered that the fabric and/or garment has been made in a country that has dubious human rights or sustainability policies. The benefit of shopping in store is that you can feel the fabric yourself and read all the labels, which are required by Australian law to state the fabric composition and origin, and where the garment was made.”
Over the next eight weeks, the Edit Collection will house the entire Resort 2021 TOCO Collection from Bondi Born. In February My General Store will move into the space, First Nations Fashion & Design Collective will be showcased from May to June and in July, Esse Studios will round out Afterpay’s tenure at Chatswood Chase.
To plan and execute the Edit Collection was a 12 month process and while plans for a second iteration of the store is not yet known, it is hoped that this kind of concept will remove the key barriers of setting up a brick-and-mortar location for more brands.
Visit the store:
Chatswood Chase Sydney
345 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW 2067