Glenmore Street, Paddington, New South Wales © Destination NSW
How to shop Sydney, with Nadia Fairfax
Iconic and daring fashion boutiques are scattered across Sydney’s inner suburbs. Here’s an insider’s guide to finding them.
Interviewed by Natasha Dragun
Sydney born-and-bred, influencer Nadia Fairfax chronicles the city’s fashion and style scene on her popular website, Fairfax Journal. From Paddington to Double Bay, here are her top picks of the Sydney suburbs you cannot miss on your next shopping itinerary.
Start your shopping mission in Double Bay
Between shops, Nadia often makes the most of Double Bay’s high-end beauty salons, including Kristin Fisher Eyebrows.
“Sydney’s fashion scene is quite optimistic,” Nadia says. “It’s like ‘dopamine dressing’, in the sense that there are bright colours, and bold, clashing prints and textures. There are lots of voluminous pieces with intricate details and contrasting styles. It emulates the vibe of the city.” Think always busy, extremely diverse and all about the outdoors.
At the top of Nadia’s list of Sydney’s most stylish shopping precincts is Double Bay, an upscale harbourside neighbourhood in the inner east, just over a 10-minute drive east of the city centre. “The precinct is really finding its groove again, with so many beautiful stores from local and hard-to-find international designers,” she says. “I particularly love Mode Sportif – the owner, Deborah Symond O’Neil, has such an eye for striking event wear.” You’ll find pieces in her store from the likes of Bird & Knoll, Wynn Hamlyn and Beaufille.
Walk down Double Bay’s Bay Street and you’ll find boutiques by iconic Australian designers such as Carla Zampatti and local bespoke milliner Nerida Winter.
“The area is also home to a boutique from Australian brand Scanlan Theodore, known for clean lines and flattering cuts, as well as a store called The Monogram Mode, which sells the most stylish fashions for kids.”
Make Paddington your next stop
Heading back towards the city, you’ll arrive in the very bohemian and chic inner-eastern suburb of Paddington, a ten-minute drive south-east from central Sydney. In this charming suburb, boutiques occupy fully-restored Victorian terraced houses and there is a real emphasis on local designers.
"Shopping in Paddington really allows you to embrace Sydney’s successful creative culture"
Your first stop should be the cluster of stores at The Intersection of Oxford Street (the main street through Paddington), and Glenmore Road, which is dedicated to iconic and bourgeoning Australian fashion. “Viktoria & Woods, started by Melbourne-based Margie Woods, has a showroom in this neighbourhood and others across Sydney, as does Venroy, which is really making a mark.” Venroy’s pieces, for example, are designed to capture Sydney’s leisure-oriented lifestyle.
Then there’s Aje on Oxford Street. “I often turn to this brand when I’m dressing up for events or an occasion. I worked with them as a brand manager for years, and I love their style ethos. There’s toughness, but femininity – it’s dishevelled elegance.
“I’m usually pretty specific when shopping, but visitors should really make a day of exploring Paddington with all it’s nooks and small one-off boutiques. Stop in to a pub for a drink, or a café – my favourite is Jackies Paddington for coffee.”
Buy local designers
“Sydney local high-end designers are creating some amazing things,” Nadia says. “Christopher Esber’s ready-to-wear women’s fashions are really incredible. As are those at Sir the Label, which was started by two young Sydney girls and has clothing everyone can wear. I have so many of their pieces, from lovely linens to slinky things.”
You can shop Sir the Label’s designs at its flagship store in the beachside suburb of Manly, a gorgeous 30-minute ferry ride from the city’s glittering Circular Quay. And you can browse Christopher Esber’s creations at Désordre boutique in Darlinghurst, just between Paddington and the city centre.
Looking for iconic Australian jewellery and homewares? Head to the modernist masters at Dinosaur Designs, with stores in the Strand Arcade in central Sydney and on Paddington’s Oxford Street. “I love Dinosaur Designs,” Nadia says. “Louise Olsen [a co-owner] keeps evolving, and I adore her use of bold colours. Her father is notable Australian artist John Olsen. They’re a pretty cool family. I have heaps of the brand’s bangles in a multitude of colours, plus gold earrings with their signature resin baubles that you can mix and match in colours. I also have their resin homewares all around the place.”
Browse the shops in Bondi
“Any first-timer to Sydney is going to visit Bondi [a 20-minute drive east of the city centre], and its boutiques are definitely worth a stroll,”
Nadia recommends the Playa by Lucy Folk concept store, with its oh-so-pink interiors showcasing beachy fashions, accessories and jewellery by Lucy Folk, a goldsmith by trade. Playa by Lucy Folk is on Hall Street, Bondi Beach – you’ll find the entrance around the corner in the side street.
Walk further down Hall Street away from the beachfront and you’ll find Bondi institution Gertrude & Alice, a popular bookstore and café. Here you can sip great coffee at tables set among packed bookshelves while you choose your next novel. And for Sydney’s favourite gelato, cross the road from Gertrude & Alice and order a refreshing scoop from Gelato Messina Bondi.
Hunt for treasure at Kirribilli Markets
Kirribilli Markets, a bi-monthly shopping extravaganza held in the Kirribilli neighbourhood at the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is one of Nadia’s favourite places for one-off fashion finds. “This is by far the best market in Sydney,” she says.
"It’s always bustling and vibrant, and there’s a real emphasis on second-hand, upcycling and reusing, which is so popular at the moment."
“Over the years I’ve found some great things here, like vintage Chanel earrings and a Pucci scarf you would never find anywhere else.”