On a whim, I decided to visit Chadstone, the fashion capital here in Melbourne because The Gap opened its first shop in Australia there today.
It wasn't too crazy - busy, yes, but not insane. A girl greeted me as I entered the shop with a perky "Welcome to The Gap!" and there was another sales assistant on the other side of the doors handing out Gap branded chocolates. It was all very cheerful, and I began browsing in the ladies section.
The shop is laid out like any other shop at Chadstone. It's worth noting that there are two levels, with Baby Gap upstairs (I think, I didn't actually go up there because there was a bit of traffic on the escalators), but the lower level has the men's and women's wear.
This is the only photo I managed to take inside the shop on my phone before I got told politely that "We can't allow you to take photos in the store. Sorry, the manager will get really angry." Will he? That's too bad - so stressed out on the first day of business, my heart bleeds for you! The guy who told me this was wearing a headset, so I presume he reports any illicit photo-taking directly into the manager's ear so the Angry Manager can come down and shout at people.
Anyway, like I said, I began browsing and made a couple of notes in my phone (I didn't dare write anything down in case I got reported for writing things in a little notebook, SHOCK HORROR) about the prices and such.
First of all, they do have a nice collection of casual and dressy casual wear, which I liked - a lot of good basics for the wardrobe. A lot of it in the women's section tended towards the Spring/Summer wardrobe, which I was a bit disappointed with. I had hoped to see a few more Winter-y things like jumpers, but they did have plenty of long sleeved t-shirts, jackets, trench coats, button down shirts and blouses, and a couple of cardigans. They did also have bikinis, a few pairs of shoes and general accessories like hats, scarves and bags.
The most obvious flaw I spotted straight away is that they've stuck with US sizing in the Australian shop, which is hideously confusing and, I suspect, not accurate against our sizes. For example, the jeans are labeled as size 0/26 (or whatever size 0 equates to), which is kind of stupid. I was asking the girl to explain the sizes to me and she gave me a brief run down on what each one is, so I asked her what a size 14 or 16 would be and she told me "We don't actually stock anything over a size 12."
They DO NOT STOCK OVER SIZE 12 in jeans/pants. Some of the most common clothing sizes in Australia are not catered for, immediately ignoring most of the female population. Well done Gap, well done. But wait! I was told, as I held up a teeny, tiny "size 12" pair of jeans that they're a "loose fit." Phew! I was worried there for a second!
Insert eyeroll here.
Anyway, I continued on through the shop and found a couple of super cute floral shirts (very Felicity Porter-esque), so I reached up to feel the fabric. It was paper thin people. I put my hand inside the shirt and could actually see it fairly well through the fabric. I checked the label: made in China. Not really a surprise, but given the shirt was $79.95 I would have expected slightly better quality.
There were a couple of cute jackets and trench coats, but again, they were very thin. There were a couple of nice maxi dresses, and a good array of denim jackets, which a lot of people were checking out, as well as short shorts, singlets, t-shirts and other Summery things. Towards the back of the shop there were a few racks of buttons down shirts that were slightly more business-like, but still quite casual, which I really liked. There were also some tables with sleeveless dressy tops, as well as a couple of racks with cardigans and long sleeved t-shirts, so they seem to have most of their bases covered.
I am a dork and noted down the prices for a bunch of items and came home to compare them against the items on The Gap's US website, so here is a quick sample list of clothing stocked in the Melbourne shop versus the prices online on the American website (note that the items I looked up on the USA website are similar, not the exact same item).
$129.55 (Melb) vs. $22.54 to $78.63 (US prices converted into Aussie dollars)
$99.95 vs. $28.17 to $78.36
$79.95 vs. $16.90 to $44.54
$69.95 vs. $16.90 to $56.37
$39.95 per piece (top or bottom) vs. $6.76 to $28.17
$89.95 vs. $16.90 to $67.10
Button down shirt
$79.95 vs. $20.29 to $67.10
So you can see that the Melbourne shop has jacked up the prices a bit in most cases. Obviously they have overheads and import costs/taxes to deal with, but I don't really think a paper thin shirt should cost almost $80. Call me cheap, but when I'm shelling out what is nearly $100 for a casual shirt, I don't expect it to feel like it will fall apart after two washes, especially when I could visit Jeanswest or a similar shop to purchase something for nearly half that price. I think that while people will making a lot of purchases there for the first couple of months, come November or December and The Gap will start slashing prices in pre-Christmas sales, and that's when I'll wait to grab a few bargains.
It's also worth noting that The Gap's US website now ships to Australia, so you can potentially pick up a lot of bargains there (however I'm not sure if they ship sale items overseas).
The verdict? Iffy. Prices are a little bit too high when you compare them to the quality of the garments, and limiting the sizing to size 12 and under for women is a HUGE mistake (apparently the tops ago up to a size 14, but I didn't see any in the store while I browsed). While I think The Gap will be a nice novelty for a little while, by the end of the year I think they'll be having huge sales and/or sending a lot of their stock to the factory outlet store at the DFO in South Wharf.
Have you been to check it out? What did you think?
There has been a bunch of new Australian music released in the last couple of months, and for once I actually like some of it (I know, I know, I'm a terrible Australian - I don't like most of the music this country produces - FOR SHAME).
Anyway, I'm being lazy with this entry and phoning it in with a bunch of youtube videos, but these are the songs that have me reaching for the volume dial and turning it up when I hear them.
Let's kick it off with a slow one from Kisschasy called Dinosaur. It's a simple tune, but that's exactly why I like it - the acoustic guitar lets the lyrics speak for themselves.
This Sia track was featured on the TV show Spicks and Specks earlier this year and I loved the video for it. But then I listened to the song, You've Changed, again and realised that it was pretty cool too.
Seriously, how awesome is this video?
Now for a band called Gyroscope and this kick-ass tune titled Baby, I'm Getting Better. I hear this song at least once a day as I drive home from work and I love it.
See what I mean? Kick ass.
I was never a huge Powderfinger fan. I didn't hate them, but I didn't love them either. They definitely have some great tracks, but sometimes I tired a little bit of Bernard Fanning's voice. They're calling it quits now, which is sad, but their final album is definitely showing the world they're going out with a bang. This track, called Burn Your Name, is really great and it's a fantastic example of their talent and the great music they've produced over the past ten years or so.
The video is pure Powderfinger.
Finally, there's this track from ex-Australian Idol contestant Lisa Mitchell, who, to be honest, I never thought much about one way or the other. Then she released a new album and this track started playing on the radio, and then I saw the video for it whenever I was at the gym.
How gorgeous is it? While she doesn't seem entirely comfortable in front of the camera, the sets and dancers more than make up for that. The song is so upbeat and happy I just can't stop listening to it.Pin It
Everyone is mad on food here in Melbourne. CRAZY for it. And you can eat very, very well in Melbourne, in pretty much any suburb. But what about those times when you cannot be bothered leaving the house because you haven't gotten out of your pyjamas since the day before, you have no petrol in your car and you just don't want to deal with all the other humanity out there?
My friends, let's talk about my latest obsession: Food blogs.
There are people who devote their lives to food and drink, working as chefs, sommeliers, baristas, pastry chefs, bakers, chocolatiers and restauranteurs. BUT. There are also people who devote their lives to other things and just love to cook for pleasure, and they write about it on the side. These people are some of the most popular bloggers - the food bloggers.
These are some of the blogs I check out in my down time. I like to get inspiration for meals, learn about different restaurants and check out the photography. Because oh my gosh: food photography is like an art form these days.
My current favourite Australian food blogs are as follows:
Citrus & Candy is run by Karen, a Sydney girl by way of London and Perth, with a Malaysian-Chinese background. Her recipes are often simple, quick things, and the desserts she makes (and photographs) are to die for! Her commentary on the recipes is very friendly and as a novice cook, I relate to her well. She seems like a fun person to bake with.
Her photography is just stunning - so simply styled, but they look like spreads from a magazine.
Next on the list is another Sydney blog, Not Quite Nigella. This blog isn't just all recipes all the time. Blogger Lorraine has recently been featured in The Foodies' Guide to Sydney 2010, and travels to restaurants, has interviews with chefs and competitions and give-aways on her site that keep the reader interested and engaged.
Now for a couple of non-Australian food blogs I can't get enough of!
I love to bake, and Erica's Sweet Tooth is such a fun blog to read. Erica is a dental student in the USA, and she bakes just for the fun of it. Her blog is fresh and colourful, and the most appealing thing about it (to me anyway!) is that she only makes sweet things. There's an emphasis on cupcakes, muffins and cookies, but there are also some delicious looking cakes, ice creams and yummy treats. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but when I do, I think these will be first on my list (cinnamon ice cream, and chocolate hazelnut mousse).
Ree Drummond, known on the Internet as The Pioneer Woman has one of the best lifestyle blogs around. Her story is like something out of a romance novel - she was a girl living and working in California. On a visit to her home town in Oklahoma she met and fell in love with an honest-to-God cowboy. Instead of moving back to the city, Drummond married her cattle farmer cowboy, who she refers to on the blog as "Malboro Man" (seriously, go and read their love story. It's long, but it's worth it). The site has a lot of great sections on home schooling, house and garden, photography (she is self-taught and she is AMAZING) and of course, food.
A example of her photography, just because I love it so much:
Let me know if you you have any food blogs you love to read, and in the meantime, enjoy browsing these sites - you'll find lots of treats to keep you inspired!
On a recent trip to Sydney for a friends' wedding. I wore what I refer to as my "Mad Men dress" (because it's totally something Joan Holloway would wear - the colour, the collar, the style). While I may not be the thinnest person in the world, I figure if Joan Holloway can get away with a slinky dress, why can't I? If only I had the skills to style a super retro up-do I'd have the look complete.
Worn with a black belt around the waist and some cute black patent heels.Pin It