From Paris runways to an airport runway, Sydney Airport has unveiled a new luxury precinct that rivals iconic fashion strips from around the world. Ten luxury brands opened their doors this week, with a further nine joining mid-2023 during phase two. The fashion streetscape will see world exclusives, firsts in the Australian fashion retail sector and unrivalled luxury retail experiences for those travelling down under.

Sydney Airport Unveils new fashion precinct to revival big players in the luxury fashion sector
The new fashion precinct will rival big players in the luxury fashion retail sector, making Australia’s busiest airport a destination luxury retail venue in its own right. © Sydney Airport

Balenciaga, Burberry, Hermes and Prada Open For Business

Ten high-end luxury brands opened their doors for business in September, bringing true international craftsmanship to Sydney’s exquisite new fashion retail space. Among those are Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Bvlgari, Hermès, Loewe, Moncler, Prada, Rolex and Saint Laurent. Many retailers will be making their Sydney Airport debut, and retailer Gentle Monster will unveil its first store in the ANZ region in 2023.

Balenciaga's first Sydney Airport store is now open
Balenciaga opened its first-ever store at Australia’s busiest airport, providing something for the luxury streetwear-loving passenger. © Sydney Airport

Balenciaga has brought its luxury Parisian streetwear to the Sydney “runway”, utilising rough concrete, cool-hued lighting and linear shelving. Synonymous with chunky sneakers that retail in excess of 1300 AUD, the brand will add diversity to the portfolio of runway-ready designers in Sydney Airport’s new streetscape precinct.

Balenciaga's first Sydney Airport store is now open
With 19 Stores due to open by mid-2023, Sydney Airport’s luxury retail streetscape will be the largest of its kind in Australia. © Sydney Airport

Bottega Veneta, Loewe, Prada and Saint Laurent join Balenciaga on Sydney Airport debut this September, while Cartier, Celine, Dior, Gentle Monster, Louis Vuitton, Moncler, Valentino and Versace will join in Mid-2023. A total of 19 high-end luxury stores will line the streetscape, making it the largest collection of luxury brands in one place in Australia. There is no firm date for the completion of the 2700 square-meter luxury retail precinct, with worker shortages making it difficult to pin a date.

Burberry opened a new global concept store at Sydney Airport
A first look at Burberry’s new global concept store, the first of its kind in Australia. © Sydney Airport

Burberry launched an exclusive Aussie first by opening a new global concept store at the international terminal, the first of its kind in Australia. However, it’s only one of many firsts, with Louis Vuitton opening its first dedicated travel retail store in the southern hemisphere and the largest travel retail store worldwide.

“We are excited to unveil the new luxury experience at Sydney Airport, featuring the most premium luxury brands in the world. We know that their incredible collections, and the ability to put products aside for in-store collection, will be well received by passengers, delivering a truly unique shopping experience only available at Sydney Airport within Australia,” Sydney Airport’s Executive General Manager Commercial Mark Zaouk said while speaking on the impact the luxury precinct will have upon its opening.

Heinemann Tax & Duty-Free are set to offer new Beauty, Fashion, Luxury Timepieces and Jewellery deals exclusive to Sydney Airport. Many luxury retailers are expected to launch exclusive offers and items at their new T1 terminal stores to entice new shoppers.

Burberry opened a new global concept store at Sydney Airport
The people have spoken on social media, and some have called for more Australian brands to be present in the world-class shopping precinct. © Sydney Airport

Australian Brands Overlooked For Luxury Retail Zone

Despite the overwhelming selection of international luxury brands available in the new luxury shopping precinct, there is a clear absence of Australian fashion.

While Australia is not considered a major player in the world of luxury fashion, some high-end Aussie brands have been hitting the runways and making a name for themselves on the world stage. Zimmermann, an Australian luxury fashion brand, appeared at New York Fashion Week in February this year and is recognised as one of Australia’s most successful luxury fashion exports. However, Zimmermann’s absence at Sydney Airport baffles.

However, Sydney does play host to some of Australia’s newest and established luxury fashion brands, such as Oroton, Camilla, and Carolina. To find them, you’ll have to be in the domestic terminal.

Oroton Resort 22 Afterpay Australian Fashion Week
Oroton dropped a stunning resort collection at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, which was featured in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Grazia and Marie Claire. © Getty

It wasn’t long before Facebook users picked up on this and took to the comments.

“Same as every airport in the world, very boring. Would be much more interesting to see local fashion, crafts etc rather than all these luxury chain stores,” one user stated. “All these non-Australian luxury brands. A missed opportunity” mentioned another on the Airport’s announcement post on LinkedIn.

Oroton enjoyed a fruitful Afterpay Australian Fashion Week after presenting its resort collection on the 10th of May, followed by featuring in the Afterpay Future of Fashion show on the 11th of May alongside 12 other leading Australian designers. Since taking on the position of creative director in May 2017, the former creative director of Country Road, Sophie Holt, has transformed Oroton into a modern Australian designer brand with an international audience.

Afterpay Australian Fashion Week's First Nations Fashion and Design show 2022
Afterpay Australian Fashion Week’s First Nations Fashion and Design show 2022 was the first ever display of indigenous designers on an Australian runway. © Getty

One would think that integrating up-and-coming Australian luxury fashion brands alongside renowned international brands at Sydney Airport would provide benefits beyond the showroom. With 16.7 million passengers passing through the international terminal every year, high-end Australian brands could gain international recognition and prestige by featuring amongst such household names.

More importantly, increasing interest in Australian-born brands and growing Australia’s reputation as an international fashion powerhouse will inevitably attract more “fashion tourism”. The term fashion tourism relates to people who travel with the purpose of shopping for particular brands, visiting iconic stores and attending events. It’s become a lucrative niche within the fashion industry that is popular among the “big four” fashion nations (France, Italy, the United States and the UK).

Prada store at Sydney Airport's new luxury retail precinct
A look inside Italian fashion house Prada’s new boutique in terminal 1. © Sydney Airport

Nine more stores are set to open in phase two in mid-2023, including Cartier, Celine, Dior, Gentle Monster, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Valentino and Versace. All 19 stores have agreed on leases until 2027.

Loewe store in Sydney Airport's new luxury retail precinct
Loewe, the Spanish luxury retail giant, utilised varying shades of pink and olive green throughout their new Sydney international terminal store. © Sydney Airport

Fears continue to grow around staffing issues at Sydney Airport, with hundreds of cancellations and many delays littering the month of August. Airport workers, including luxury retail workers, have been in short supply. Some have even described the experience of travelling through Sydney Airport as the “worst they have ever experienced”. It begs the question of whether international luxury retail will profit or flop in the coming months at the international terminal.

Would you like to see more Australian-born luxury fashion retailers at Sydney Airport?

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