26/03/2008 - 22:00

Fashionable end of town

26/03/2008 - 22:00


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William Street and its surrounds has gone through something of a revival in recent times.

Fashionable end of town

William Street and its surrounds has gone through something of a revival in recent times.

Led by a couple of former Tafe fashion design students, the area is now home to nine fashion boutiques.

Red Stripe Clothing was one of the first boutiques to arrive, shifting from the Subiaco markets about four years ago.

The store’s co-founder, Lake Bovell, said the move had an “astronomical” effect on revenue.

“We didn’t expect it to be this good.

In the first year, we grew about 300 per cent,” Ms Bovell said.

Most of Red Stripe’s customers are regulars who followed the business after its relocation, although the number of walk-in shoppers has grown.

“Because we’re on the main street, we get a lot of people traffic,” Ms Bovell said.

Red Stripe is one of eight boutiques that have banded together as a collective to form ‘Windows on William’, in order to market themselves more effectively.

Chaired by Aimee Johns, owner of fashion retailer Keith & Lottie, the group has launched a magazine and website since it was set up last September.

However, some of the newer arrivals are finding it hard to drum up business.

Spokey Dokes owner Brad Wynne opened his shop after graduating from university last year, stocking his own clothing label ‘Maiden China’, as well as some vintage items.

But he says it’s been difficult to raise the outlet’s profile, given its location down an alleyway in William Street Arcade, where there are currently six vacant shops for lease.

“I rely on a lot of regular customers, but the growth hasn’t been that great,” Mr Wynne said.

“I’ve got a three-year lease, so I’ve really got to make it work.” The Curtin University fine arts graduate performs some contract labouring on weekends to subsidise the shop, and has set up an online store.

But he hopes the real driver of the business will be a new Sunday market, being launched next month, which will feature Spokey Dokes wares and other merchandise from local Tafe students.

“I’ve been here for a year and there wasn’t much going on, so I decided we needed to generate a drawcard to let people know we’re here,” Mr Wynne said.

“We’re looking to have something like a contemporary Fremantle market, on a smaller level.” At the northern end of William Street, Lala Orange founder Kristy Correy is further away from the action, having moved to the site because the rent was half the rate of sites closer to the city.

But she believes the area will only improve in terms of its viability for boutique shops.

“I think (William Street) will be the next big thing.

As people see we’re doing things, they’ll start to move in,” Ms Correy said.

“I think it will get better and better.”  


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