There’s a massive stirring in the city of Sydney. Pitt Street Mall is full of construction & noise, day in, day out. You would imagine this to be off-putting for the local Sydney-Sider but the opposite seems to be happening. Instead of foot traffic slowing and stores reporting decreased sales, we’re seeing the general public’s insatiable curiosity leading them into ‘almost finished shops’ with glaring 50-70% off sale signs.
Just like kittens, these shoppers are tenderly making their way through the new shops of Lend Lease and Westfield (still yet to be opened) as Pitt Street Mall takes a face-lift. It’s been in the making for many years, and while the 2 giants go head to head in a Jurassic tug of war trying to entice consumers, we have a subtle yet more tailored call to the design district of Sydney, known as Surry Hills.
This understated design district has a new player called The Icarus Store. Now if you didn’t know, in Greek mythology, Icarus, is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus. The main story of Icarus is about his intent to escape Crete by means of wings constructed by his father. He ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and thus, feel to his death. What I love about this character, is he dared to be great. He also was innovative, larger than life, and thought outside the square.
Which takes us to Nathan. Not unlike the character named – Neo out of the Matrix, Nathan knew there was something else to his life than an office job. In a moment of true revelation, and while on a holiday in New York City, Nathan started to see retail as a way to serve young men (in his home town of Sydney) in their efforts to look different, feel confident and have a more unique and quality driven wardrobe. So, with the help of his friends in creative and high places, Nathan stuck a deal with various unknown yet splendid labels and brands and planted them in Reservoir Street in Surry Hills.
Now this story may not be for everyone, as it’s localised. But remember, we have international products in this store.
Take ‘CB I hate perfume’ for instance. After four years with Kiehl’s USA, Christopher Brosius set out to make perfume on his own in 1992. Since then, he has won four Fragrance Foundation awards and been nominated for many others. Christopher opened the I Hate Perfume gallery in Williamsburg in 2004. The name reveals his disdain for overpowering department store perfume brands and their use of alcohol as a base for fragrance. His oil and water based perfumes have their own story to tell and capture a very special sense of place or experience. Each perfume is carefully compounded, blended and bottled by hand in his gallery workshops. We love it!
Then look at Loden Dager. This is a menswear collective based in New York designed chiefly by two Marc Jacobs alumni, Oliver Helden and Paul Marlow. Loden Dager debuted in 2006 with a rigorously unadorned collection of shirts, jackets, and pants. As the label has gained a loyal following — plus an Ecco Domani award and a partnership with Uniqlo — it has grown more adventuresome with its fabrications and influences. With a nod to a bygone era, Loden Dager’s designs echo fashion’s grey area between the masculine 1940′s, the mod 1960′s and the hippie 1970′s. The result is a sophisticated and approachable wardrobe for the student, worker, activist and everyman.
Swedish-born Patrik Ervell received a political science degree from UC Berkeley and fell into design after working as an editor at V magazine. Ervell saw a gap in the market and launched his own menswear collection in 2005. His designs are heavily influenced by the military and classic American sportswear, carefully tailored with luxurious touches. Ervell has received widespread acclaim for his minimal aesthetic and creative use of utilitarian materials, highlights include winning the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award in 2007 and being a runner-up in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2009. Check out the home page! http://www.patrikervell.com/ It’s totally innovative.
It was ridiculously hard to move throughout the store at the opening of Icarus. The environment design, which as you all know either repels or attracts the side street consumer, was understated and subtle, yet inviting. Masculine to a tee without taking sides of the ‘too dandy’ or the ‘too lumber jack’, we found Icarus to be modest, intelligent and savvy. The supportive crowd chattered and silently coded a nod of approval, as Nathan carefully selected the right ambient lighting, the right music and the right display of product. Even the accidentally broken bottle of ‘CD I hate perfume’ ended up wafting through the store making this another sensory experience for the opening launch crowd.
Icarus Store is located at 42 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills.
www.icarusstore.com – head over on a Saturday to chat to Nathan and his girlfriend Karen, who go beyond retail and actually take pride in customer service.