The city of international style-icons and home to a burgeoning garment industry, Perth is an up-and-coming style destination with a street style reputation to match. Isolated from the rest of Australia, looking out onto the Indian Ocean, Perth street style is as outward-facing and worldly as the city itself. That said, Perth is also known as the most isolated city on earth, far-flung from its nearest neighbour, Adelaide, lending aspects of Perth street style a certain insularity and uniqueness.
Home to a small industry of street-style bloggers, documenting the every hem and heel of Perth style, the time is ripe for a closer look at the city’s unique style through the lens of some of the most fashionable Perth neighbourhoods.
The beating heart of Perth’s hyper-active arts scene, where the likes of Heath Ledger once walked the boards, Northbridge is the most bohemian of the Perth fashion hangouts. Visitors to the neighbourhood will spy Perth’s aspiring actors in threadbare denim —think Alexander Wang — lurking near the Heath Ledger theatre, or watch painters sip flat whites at the famous Babooshka on William Street quite possibly wearing printed Vivienne Westwood T-shirts.
Although close to Perth’s historic centre and one of its oldest neighbourhoods, Northbridge has always been culturally distinct; a railway line dividing it from the city’s heart. Literally on the wrong side of the tracks, Northbridge was the first stop for many immigrants to Western Australia who couldn’t afford accommodation elsewhere. The gold rush of the 1890s prompted a global influx of vagabonds and prospectors, giving the neighbourhood a roguish reputation it’s been keen to hang on to. Here and now, Northbridge’s street style is steeped in the neighbourhood’s dark history, while being influenced by style from other artistic urban enclaves like Brooklyn and Shoreditch, mixing the latest designer trends with emerging labels and vintage jewellery.
The West End
Like its famous British namesake, Perth’s West End is an epicentre of upmarket style. King Street, the Southern Hemisphere’s Via Veneto, is a veritable highway of designer style. With one of Perth's most statuesque exports (and flag-bearer for Perth style) Gemma Ward regularly browsing West End's boutiques, one can conclude the location is firmly plugged in to the international fashion circuit.
The West End look, the most confidently upmarket of all Perth street style subcultures, is a bold Western Australian take on epochal glamour; the bars and boutiques of the Kings Road being the perfect place, after all, to flash one’s mining millions. In finely tailored Victoria Beckham dresses, Bally handbags slung almost casually over their shoulders, Perth’s elite circle descend on the abundantly stylish bar, Bobèche, brushing shoulders with the city’s most respected international fashion models — an impressive showcase of the city’s place on the global high-fashion circuit
Although one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Perth, the West End only came into its own in the 1920s and 30s, giving the entire neighbourhood a gleeful, Jazz Age aesthetic. Catch a show at His Majesty’s Theatre on Hay Street for one of the most breath-taking Art Deco interiors in Western Australia.
A short journey from the rest of the city, Fremantle is Perth’s best-kept secret. The port city sees trams rattle down Fremantle’s quaint streets as ships rumble in and out of the still-operational harbour. Elsewhere, Fremantle’s enormous markets help to solidify the city as one of the most fashionable Perth neighbourhoods — the most famous undoubtedly being the Fremantle Market itself. Since 1897, the market’s 150 stalls have hosted a sprawling array of food and locally-made crafts, and the original, colonial-period building in which the market resides is worth a visit in itself. Fremantle is also one of Perth’s best neighbourhoods for a coffee, with locals gravitating towards Blink Coffee Bar just a block back from the harbourside.
Fremantle’s take on Perth fashion is as multifarious as the neighbourhood itself. A far cry from the urbane chic of Northbridge, Fremantle style is more colourful and freewheeling, which indeed owes a lot to wave after wave of emigration. The neighbourhood wears its Italian influences on the sleeve, literally — think Dolce & Gabbana’s prints rooted in the designers’ Sicilian heritage setting up stylish meanderings to the market. In a nod to the region’s labouring heritage, men’s style in Fremantle is not independent of denim. Gently tailored Kenzo denim shirts see stylish men of Fremantle congregating around the harbour for long, Western Australian evenings of sun-drenched relaxation.
Perth street style, rather unjustly overlooked for so long has earned its place in the international fashion circuit. In large part thanks to its overseas ambassadors like Gemma Ward, Perth style is now recognised for its manifold and cosmopolitan influences. And as the most fashionable Perth neighbourhoods undergo even more reincarnations, the city’s sartorial reputation will most surely grow.