Melbourne Central’s Shot Tower Square is a bustling epicentre, with thousands of visitors flying through every day; running for a train, stopping for a coffee or waiting for that Australiana clock to chime the hour and make all the baby koalas dance.
Shot Tower Square’s central location made it the perfect space to launch the 100 Squared Emerging Designer Market, an innovative market concept dreamed up by Justin Levy and brought to Melbourne in association with Justin Watson of BAM Brands.
The 100 Squared Market, which hosts an ongoing selection of emerging designer stalls that gradually rotate throughout the year, was officially launched last week with flowing wine provided by Be. Wine and cupcakes from Cupcake Central, as well as a photo booth provided by Party Pod.
The initial market was launched in Westfield Sydney two years ago, and is so named for the standard floor space the market is designed around (although the space at Melbourne Central is significantly smaller), with all stalls stocked to capacity with art, jewellery and fashion.
With the intent to platform young designers and give them a starting point from which to launch their brand, Justin Levy says the space has been received well.
“I wasn’t sure at the beginning whether customers in a shopping centre would want to engage with emerging designers, but they actually preferred it to the stores because they’re able to shop in a more casual, market-type environment,” he says.
“They get unique products which they know their friends wont have, and they get to discover a new brand. It works for the brand too, because they can come in and make money and broaden their clientele.”
Designers currently involved include Pigeonhole, South District, Mitto, Cinnamon Creations and Miss Brown, stocking items varying from golden cat earrings, to beaded blouses, vintage dresses and bright neon clutches.
100 Squared at Shot Tower is the first of the concept markets to appear in Melbourne, but a second one is expected to appear in an as yet undisclosed location, as well as expanding to Brisbane next year.
“The whole point is to be a fashion incubator,” Justin explains.
“We want people to start out with us and leave us with the potential to go into their own store and run a stable business.”
Justin Watson of BAM Brands says the markets are a great opportunity for young designers to retail their product.
“There are a lot of really talented designers in Melbourne, but they don’t necessarily think of their designs commercially, so providing an opportunity for them to do so makes sense,” he says.
“That’s what this platform is about. It’s a permanent retail concept; the objective is to grow future retail brands.”
The 100 Squared Markets have already had success, pushing emerging label Princess Polly into a fixed retail space within 9 months as the brand continues to grow.
The designers that make up the market are rotated gradually and the space is altered or upgraded periodically to keep it fresh for visitors passing by. At the event, illustrator Jessica Singh was busily giving the change rooms a make over, a blooming array of pastel and silhouettes to ornament the walls.
“There’s always something going on!” Justin Levy says, smiling.