australia shopping guide
From Australia to you
Bonus Online Stores
With their stellar selections of impossible-to-find-stateside labels and speedy international shipping, these are the Australia-based sites we can't stop logging on to.
Headed by a former fashion publicist and based in Coogee Beach, one of the Sydney area's famed surf spots, Birdmotel offers up effortlessly cool pieces with a winsome, summery feel. Toucan-print T-shirts, high-waisted sailor shorts, cropped chambray vests, and wildly striped bikinis are selectively picked from names like Milk & Honey, One Teaspoon, and Little Lady From—and there's even an assortment of handpicked vintage pieces to click through. The best part is that nearly everything costs less than $100, and shipping—no matter how many items you buy—is a flat $24 fee.
The international courier used by this online retailer is so expeditious, it can transport goods to your doorstep in as little as two to four days. And while swift delivery is one of Ciao Meow's big selling points, it's not nearly as impressive as its spot-on mix of labels, which is dedicated equally to on-the-cusp and more seasoned regional talents. Some of them may be familiar to American eyes, like Fleur Wood and Camilla and Marc, but there are also more popular-in-the-homeland brands, including Trelise Cooper and Le Poer Trench.
Based on its name alone, this site sounds like it might be just a little too precious. But in actuality, the opposite is true—it's one of the most refined spots on the Web for emerging Australian labels. The homepage's muted lilac-and-charcoal color scheme sets a glam yet understated mood, which is echoed in the well-chosen pieces. Two standouts: Valerie Tolosa (check out her V-neck yoked silk cotton smock) and Kate Hurst (a designer who started selling her citified garments at Sydney markets; don't miss her drawstring-hem silk anorak).
This unerringly cool resource caters to those in the market for vintage-inspired, streetwise pieces, like bow-tie-appliquéd T-shirts, neon-striped sunglasses, and canvas totes covered in message-bearing buttons. While indie brands feature prominently, choice items by established names like Sass & Bide and Life With Bird are also stocked. In keeping with its hipster reputation, Mintshop even allows shoppers to browse by typically Australian fringe categories, which at the moment include "playsuits" (a.k.a. summery rompers) and "singlets" (tank tops; here, they're often wildly printed ones).
Impressively comprehensive, Mycatwalk not only offers an A-to-Z spectrum of Australia's—and, increasingly, New Zealand's—most inspiring emerging labels, but stocks a healthy range of pieces from each one. The talents on the site that we are watching most closely are Tina Kalivas, a former Alexander McQueen patternmaker who is currently turning out bold color-blocked tank dresses, and Alice McCall, a designer known for her offbeat melding of the traditional and playful (her simple silk tunic with an explosion of tuxedo ruffles lining the front is not to be missed). As an extra service, the site also offers a handy size conversion chart (an Australian 6, for example, equals an American 2).
Don't let its name scare you off—although, it's true, Pitbullmansion does specialize in clothing and accessories that aren't exactly for the faint of heart. Hoodies made of a patchwork of plaids and polka dots, gladiator sandals slashed down the front with a giant appliquéd lightning bolt, and jersey minidresses screened with a Pac-Man-inspired print are just a sampling of the offbeat pieces that await. The site, founded by a husband-and-wife team, also sells the latest from talked-about up-and-comers that are hard to find online, like Chronicles of Never, a line by one of the founders of Ksubi (see Paddington & Woollahra neighborhood), and Bim Kenesis, a label out of far-flung Perth known for its op-art prints and elegant tailoring.