New horizon in changing trends

In January we talked about the demise of many well-known brands from the Australian retail scene and recently Esprit, the Hong-Kong listed brand many of us idolised in the ’80s, decided to close its 67 Australian and New Zealand stores.

Why? There are many reasons, beginning with the small size of the Australian market and the burgeoning rise of the new middle class in Asia.

Fast fashion and trend-driven brands need quantity to make profits and Australia does not look as inviting now that Asia has hit its economic stride.

And yes, the second reason is the rise of online shopping.

Not only are our grandchildren partaking of this service, but many boomers are also using the convenience for shopping at home.

With fashion brands delivering within three days from anywhere in the world and return policies that are free, this makes for an easy buy while sitting up in bed.

And the best part is that it’s an easy try-on at home, with no pesky, young retail assistants telling us the frock sitting just below our crotch looks good with the pattern of our varicose veins. 

One of the spin-offs of this fast-fashion exit though is that Australia has become a destination for more quality, international luxury retailers due to our stable economy and the growth of Asian tourism to our shores.

Various labels from the LVMH Louis Vuitton stable are scouting for bricks-and-mortar retail sites. Stella McCartney, Fendi, Lanvin, Mulberry, J. Crew, Gucci, Valentino, Longchamp and watchmaker Patek Philippe are all discussing retail space in Melbourne and Sydney.

But don’t despair. For those of us who can’t always afford the heady smell of such exquisite fabrics, I’m here to say that my favourite brand (and store) COS is coming to Brisbane.

Collection of Style, or COS as it’s popularly known, is owned by the Swedish H&M Group. It’s the quality, grown-up version of H&M.

It has been my favourite brand since 2007 when I first saw it in London and realised its functional, yet minimalist quality, at a reasonable price-point.

The silhouettes and fits are made for a more mature figure and the perennial colour palettes of neutrals allow you to wear them year-in and year-out. The collections always offer lightweight fabrics with plenty of layering options for an Australian winter.

Until now, to buy COS you had to either travel overseas (yes, what a shame) or in the last four years, fly to Melbourne or Sydney and recently Perth.

Luckily work travels took me to many overseas cities and COS was always the first address googled in each one.

Each store can have differing product at the same time, so you always had to check each one just in case. It was an exciting adventure to sniff out new items as COS also links its branding to the retail space and the interior layout.

You can only buy a small selection of COS online through a US e-commerce site and they do no traditional advertising. How’s that for a successful retailer in this day and age?

And COS supports the arts; its mantra being that good design need not be costly.

They embrace collaborations with artists and architectures who normally exhibit in the hallowed halls of galleries and spaces not normally frequented by the masses.

While some of these collaborations are marketing- focused, there appears to be a real love of art and architecture.

But I digress. COS is coming to Brisbane later this year and there’s a buzz for those of us super boomers who know the brand well.

It is a store we can visit and be certain that something will fit, look stunning, suit our lifestyle and not break our budgets. Hooray!

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