“… Toto I Have A Feeling We’re Not In Kansas Anymore …”
WHERE AM I? I have arrived in a world where markets and arcades are abundant. A place where fashion is foremost. Where city centers of adult education courses include Couture Techniques and Hand Sewn Shoe Making. Where boutiques showcase a tightly edited mix of independent fashion and jewelry designers from around the world. A land where master milliners provide women must-have accessories for the racing season – hats with all the trimmings. Noblivity has landed in Melbourne, Australia.
I have been here one week on a temporary assignment for business and pleasure. Trips to Tasmania, New Zealand, and throughout Australia are on the horizon. These weekend walkabouts (couldn’t resist) are expected when you travel this far, however, the outings I’m truly excited about are the ones I take without my mega city pram (a.k.a. stroller) and two and four year olds. I’m on a quest to discover the quirky, eclectic, and fashion forward exhibits, boutiques and markets that give this city its contemporary and individual vibe. I plan to shop till I drop, while spreading Noblivity goodwill to every laneway, market, arcade and shopping district in the city.
WHERE ARE WE? My sons asked often as my high-achieving self and mega pram attempted to visit every major landmark in the city this week. A visit to the century-old Queen Victoria Market (QVM), and Till You Drop Shopping – A Melbourne History exhibit at the State Library gave me reason to momentarily deflect their questions and reflect on today’s definition of marketplace and what it means to trade within. Some QVM stalls have been passed down through generations. With each generation, changes in industry and technology helped improve the family’s ability to stock goods and compete with other traders. Colorful banter and inventiveness also proved key to differentiating wares to combat increasing homogeneity. A visit to these stalls can be more entertaining than most reality shows. My trip to the Market, combined with the historical content of the exhibit, caused me to wonder: “has the romantic notion of a market being a place to gather, socialize and banter all but disappeared?” Has the movement to doing everything online dulled our senses and will soon be cause for clinical (retail) therapy?
Now, I’m a like to have my cake and eat it too kind of gal. I want to walk the lanes of a century-old market while using Google maps to guide me to the next great discovery. I believe meeting, connecting, and transacting online can be wildly romantic in a practical “get her done” kind of way. The shopkeepers and designers I’ve met here are beautifully creative and most have mastered their chosen art with a meaningful mix of tradition and technology. Fashion remains foremost and ‘time online’ is a bridge by which to build their business. This approach is strategic, purposeful and productive. And, not all together different from those stall owners that relied on inventiveness to differentiate and progress.
As the mega pram left the Central Business District, knocking over its share of black suits en route, my four year old burst my momentary bubble of (adult) reflection to ask, “What is gelato?” I have no idea if it’s actually ice cream or an imposter of creamy goodness. I’ll have to Google it on our way to my Hand Sewn Shoe Making class.