Melbourne has definitely been on the map for a while now as a city with one of the best qualities of life in the world. To learn a bit more about the pride of New South Wales we sat down with Chris Pickings who knows a thing or two about the city but also owns with his wife Carlan one of the most beautiful shops in town. He told us about their story and some local tips for those who are lucky enough to get to visit Melbourne.
What is Pickings and Parry?
I guess it's us: Chris & Carlan Pickings. We are two side-by-side 'sister and brother' shops based on Gertrude Street in Fitzory, Melbourne, Australia. We started out as only Pickings & Parry (Chris' last name and my mother's maiden name) in a small store at 126 Gertrude Street back in 2013, with a little two chair Barbershop out the back. Right from the beginning we began thinking about bringing in more lifestyle, homewares and female specific brands to the store, which gave birth to the idea for Heffernan & Haire (Carlan's maiden name and her mother's maiden name). In 2018 we moved down the street a little and opened up our new PP-HH stores, complete with bigger four chair Barbershop in the middle.
How long have you been in the trade and what got you into it?
We've been open almost seven years now, but the idea came when we moved to Melbourne from Sydney in 2011. Melbourne is known for being a more cultural and stylish city, but it had very little to offer in terms of menswear. I grew up in Northern England in the 1990's where menswear was a big thing, particularly for the working classes, so it seemed crazy that things weren't like that in Melbourne. I literally couldn't buy anything from brands I liked in a store here, so I had to buy online internationally. This got me thinking and once the idea was discussed with friends and family, it began to snowball until we had no option but to jump and see if we eventually landed on our feet without broken legs...
What is unique about Melbourne and the Area you're based in?
Melbourne is certainly the most 'European' City in Australia, with a historic tram network running around the city, lots of bicycles, parks and a strong arts and music scene; it's also well regarded for its shopping and food. We are based in the Inner City suburb of Fitzroy, which is bordered by Collingwood to the East, Carlton to the West and the City Centre to the South.
Fitzroy and the surrounding suburbs are known for their eclectic community of mixed ages and cultures, creative types and individual boutique retail and food destinations. It has a strong indigenous Australian history and community also, as well as a huge community housing complex smack bang in the middle, which keeps it from becoming too gentrified. The area is also very close to the City Centre, which makes it easily accessible for students and tourists.
Who shops with you?
In short. A bunch of amazing people. We have so many lovely customers from the ages of 18-85 and they seem to come for different reasons. Young people discovering well made products and investments for the first time is always nice as you get to tell the story of the products and the store to a new audience. Older customers who are discovering that they can finally get good things 'like they used to' is great, too. In the Summer months from January to March we also get our fair share of tourists, although that will probably be very different next year...
What is keeping you busy at the moment?
We have a two year old daughter named Pepper Pickings. She is keeping us very busy every day... The two shops also keep us incredibly busy, and Carlan has another job in Radio that takes up much of her time Monday to Friday. We're open again now after six weeks of closure during the lockdown, so we're busy getting back to the new normal and preparing to buy for next season.
What are your favourite places to hang out in Melbourne?
The aforementioned two year old tends to influence our hang-time these days, but we love Gerald's Bar in Carlton, which is an absolute institution and shouldn't be missed on any visit to our city. We also love The Everleigh for cocktails, Bar Margeaux for late night everything and Supermaxi for family Italian food. Edinburgh Gardens is also a lovely park near to where we live and that place gets some hang time when the weather is nice... If you're shopping in Fitzroy you also have to grab a sandwich and a coffee from Burnside!
If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?
Probably right here to be honest, particularly with the current state of affairs. If you're talking dream time though... Maybe Queenstown in New Zealand, or a post COVID Amalfi Coast.
What do you like about Heimat products?
We love the simplicity, the quality, the knit patterns and the colour palettes. We also love working with the guys behind the brand ; )