Originally written for The Weekly Review
Growing up in the UK, visiting Debenhams was habitual. It wasn’t an ‘experience’ or a ‘luxury’.
As a child, I would get lost in the toy section and possibly get a kid’s meal from the café if I was lucky. As a teenager I’d go in with friends, try on the perfumes while my guy friends would play the video games on the top floor.
As an adult I might mosey in, check out the sale, maybe get some tights and avoid the café at all costs due to the loud children.
And now Debenhams, like me, has arrived in Melbourne. I was eager, if a little apprehensive to check it out, how could a pretty basic department store, one with such sentimental meaning for me, be reinterpreted for Melbourne shoppers.
Heading down the escalator, I was instantly thrown off the by clean and bright aesthetic.
Debenhams isn’t chic! What is this parallel universe?
The store is organised, easy to navigate and carefully curated with some very luxurious fitting rooms for a high street store.
Of British department stores Debenhams is one of the less high-end ones. It’s no Harrods, rather it would sit somewhere between Target and Myer.
It was fun to see one of my favourite Debenhams brands House of Holland, where I purchased my well loved navy blue parka in 2012. Along with other classics, Red Herring and Principles I saw some new additions like Preen and Jenny Packham and all at the same price point.
And I would say the new store had a sheen of luxury, certainly helped by its Collins Street address.
It hasn’t got the same nostalgia I associate as a British person with Debenhams, but why would it?
It’s new and exciting to Melburnians and frankly if my local UK Debenhams had been dumped onto Collins Street it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as appealing.