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Australian retailer Country Road exemplifies the visual beauty of upcycling.




AUSTRALIAN FASHION RETAILER Country Road’s (Richmond, Australia) recently opened store in the Chadstone Shopping Centre, in a south-eastern suburb of Melbourne, is a good-looking example of what a modish emporium plying women’s, men’s and children’s apparel should look like. But it’s also a lot more than what it appears.

Thanks to a tie-up with London-based design consultancy HMKM, this is a store where sustainability is at the heart of the look and feel of its interior, something that marks it out from the great majority of its rivals in the sector.

Paul Digby, Creative Director at HMKM, explains that the brief for the Chadstone mall store was to “better reflect the retailer’s aim of ‘inspiring modern Australian living everyday.’ ” This meant taking a “360 approach to looking at sustainability opportunities,” according to Digby. He recalls that what started out as a project where sustainability was deemed important, became almost all-consuming.

The outcome is a store where much of what is on view is about upcycling. Practically, this means a store in which some of the constituent materials used in producing the fittings and fixtures include old yogurt containers, fishing nets, recycled paper and ocean plastic. Yet in spite of this, the store manages to avoid the trap of looking as if it has been produced from recycled materials with the usual hand-me-down chic that this generally implies.

Overall, the strategy worked with the store finding favor with the powers that be and receiving the 5-Star Green Star design review rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. “The design had to have good green credentials as they wanted be Australia’s first 5 Star Green Star Retail fashion store,” Digby says.

Plans are in place to roll out the Chadstone store design more generally across the chain’s stores down under. And while finding the materials to do this may prove both time-consuming and possibly expensive, it does show what is possible as far as upcycling is concerned.

Photography: Guy Lavoipierre, Melbourne, Australia




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