Whether you want unique and local, or international and luxury, Brisbane's shopping scene can provide
By Jac Taylor
With its enduring love for local design and a style that exudes sunshine, Brisbane is the perfect destination for shoppers looking for something a little different. Each neighbourhood has its own flavour, providing days of retail therapy without ever feeling same-same. The history and passion that goes into this city's arcades, centres and boutiques means your shopping days will have style and substance.
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Queen Street Mall
Queensland’s capital of shopping, the half-kilometre (550 yard) long Queen Street Mall in Brisbane is the glittering centre of a precinct bursting with chic boutiques, big brands and luxury labels. As well as more than 2000 specialty retailers, you'll find five major shopping centres, international hotels and historic arcades with 19th century stained glass and intricate facades. Head to QueensPlaza for Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co; the Myer Centre for Brisbane’s largest shopping centre and Myer department store; and MacArthur Central for Apple and Ralph Lauren. For a different feel, the heritage Brisbane Arcade celebrates chic local fashion creations in a thoroughly beautiful setting of Art Deco glass and timber panelling.
The Valley never fails to surprise with its nonstop exuberance and dedication to fun, and these qualities seem to shine from its indie boutiques and designer co-ops too. James Street is home to more than 100 fashion boutiques, and with surrounding streets and laneways forms a honeycomb rich with one-of-a-kind fashion pieces and homewares. Pick up wafting, bejewelled kaftans at Camilla or urban chic fashion at sass & bide, both in James Street, or head over to Ann Street to visit Emporium, a stylish shopping centre that pays proper tribute to its edgy neighbourhood.
The tree-lined hills of Paddington at the foot of Mount Coot-tha enfold a treasure trove of tiny vintage clothing stores, homeware boutiques, antiques and second-hand knick-knacks. Start by strolling the long shopping strip along La Trobe and Given terraces, made up of converted worker terraces, and take on its "boutique crawl" of local designers and preloved fashion. Make sure you leave time to lose yourself in the inviting clutter and stacked vintage wonders of Paddington Antique Centre. Foodies should take a detour to the charming streets of Rosalie Village, just behind Paddington. It has a bustling gourmet market selling fresh produce and flowers.
Carry on antique hunting in this lesser known shopping haven, where historic pieces and vintage furnishings abound, especially on weekends when the stores teem with bargain hunters. Those who know the area for its famous Gabba sportsground might be surprised to see, just a few steps away, an antiques precinct where the streets are lit by vintage-style streetlights, complete with light shades, and where the heritage buildings contain some of the city's best retro goods. The Woolloongabba Antique Centre is a natural place to begin, but make sure you go further afield. Stores await such as Absolutely Fabulous, with its vintage-styled gifts, jewellery and homewares, while about 40 more antique dealers are just down Logan Road at Ba-Ta-Clan Antiques Et Salon De Café.
Relaxed browsing is the order of the day in Bulimba, just around a bend in the river, four kilometres (2 1/2 miles) from the city. Its shopping areas also spill into neighbouring Hawthorne. Pick up distinctive fashion, tasteful gifts and polished homewares at upscale boutiques. Locally designed jewellery pieces can be found at Starfire Diamond Jewellery and Carbon Contemporary Jewellery. High-end Australian-designed fashion (think Zimmermann and Talulah) makes Little Red Dress a must-visit for those who will only have the best. Visitors flock to Issada, the boutique Australian cosmetics brand's concept store, while Thousand Island Dressing is the ultimate gift and souvenir store, with accessories, handmade jewellery, and cosy home decor all on offer.
In this eclectic suburb, where herbal meets hip, you can pick up some local bohemian style at Brisbane's first clothing exchange, SWOP. Enjoy a smorgasbord of independent and vintage fashion at the Vindie Markets, which take over the cool Rumpus Room bar one Saturday a season. The little house-turned-shopfront Nook makes gift shopping a pleasure with its quirky and beautiful offerings (and friendly cat). The suburb's many bookshops, from the cool comic books of Junky Comics to kids-only reading at Where The Wild Things Are, keep Brisbane in reading material. For cheese, wine, fresh produce and other edibles, The Stores stock the best of local produce.
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