Sunday, January 8, 2012

The end of the High Street in NZ?


I was pretty stunned (but not surprised) to hear that three anchor brands in the High street district of downtown Auckland were going to shut up shop, and head to the newly revamped Britomart area. Kate Sylvester, WORLD and Zambesi.

Zambesi in particular will be a huge loss for the High street brand. For me, that three-level shop, which has been there for 25 years, has always been synonymous with what a big city  (and by definition that should mean a High street) can offer. What will become of the fashion mix once these three up and leave? A variety of reasons are put forth - from greedy landlords demanding over priced rent, to the streets constantly being closed so they can film every yoghurt TVC under the sun. I’m also wondering, gorgeous as though it may now look, the long-term future of going 500 metres toward the water to the new look Britomart precinct. Why? Because we all know in the final instance, it’s really all about THE MALL. Taking photos on the street in the high street area I am stunned by the number of people who wear mid-priced pieces gleaned from your typical mall retailer like Glasson’s. And then...there’s ASOS. Buying a one off piece, absolutely individual, from a range of hundreds, posted free of charge and at your door within 7-10 days?? In my book, that’s serious competition.

Of course there are still fantastic stores, from Unity books, to Crane Brothers, Karen Walker just over on O’Connell street, and of course Workshop on Vulcan Lane corner (they seem to be hanging in there…just). But certainly, the High street demise is a debate that is going on in cities around the world.

Yet there’s a patchwork feeling to the Auckland High Street experience that isn’t quite working at the moment. And that’s a shame, because it should remain a shopping centrepiece. But how that looks and how it serves Aucklanders and tourists is worthy of much consideration.



7 comments:

Fashion Westie said...

Gutted. I am gutted. The reality of online shopping [of which I am guilty since I have been home with my little guy but more for the convenience, less about price] is that the orices can't be matched by brick and mortar stores. The general populace seems hell bent on scoring a 'better deal' from virtual shops. And they do get a better deal, sure. There are no major overheads like rent or wages factored into the cost of the product. But what you do miss out on is the hands on experience, being in the store, the service, the displays, the atmosphere, connecting with others or the garments/products. It's a shame. I'm trying to support kiwi as much as I can but the young ones who are yet to learn about paying for quality not quantity and living slow fashion instead of fast, along with the older generation who 'refuse to pay that much for some bloody clothes' have left us in the middle with less options. I've gone off subject a wee bit but the demise of main road shopping is hard to bring back once it's gone. Look at Takapuna. TDS is all they have really thanks to the stupid mall of generic crap and influx of dollarstores.

I ranted and forgot my point. Shedding a tear for the end of such iconic stores and the slow death of such a hub in Auckland City.

Decanker said...

Well,if there's any upside, it might be that that local powers that be finally click that High St should have been pedestrianised years ago. Just look at that awful photo of the street you've posted. AKL High St stores have succeeded in the past in spite of it being a terrible environment for people. With online shopping, the reality of functioning in that car-loving bricks and mortar space has become clear.

Anonymous said...

The word 'High' street should not be in capitals.

hannafrancesca said...

As much as I love NZ designers & would love to support them, most of us in this economical climate can't afford it & have to fall back on stores such as Glassons. It's sad & unfortunate but it's how it goes really.

Anonymous said...

So sad! I too am guilty as charged, buying clothes from ASOS and glassons, but I do by NZ designer items, mostly key peices that are well made and I know will last me a few years. Sometimes, i'm afraid, they are bought off trade me, and all other times on sale. I'm afraid I just cannot afford nor justify full price, especially, for example, new season Karen Walker dress for $600+. That's more than my weekly salary.

jason.eightynine said...

The High St group try to put together these crazy little events and random late nights, but it's just not the place to shop anymore.

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