Sydney’s Best Local Haunts
If you’re a fan of our brand, or have an interest in unique fabrications, I’d recommend you visit the Song for the Mute atelier/store when you’re in Sydney. Glebe is just west of the CBD and easy to reach. Visitors can see how we put things together, from raw fabrics and prototype garments to finished products. You’ll also get to meet the whole team behind SFTM.
Harrolds at Westfield Sydney is top of my list of must-visit multi-brand fashion stores. It covers everything from tailoring to streetwear, plus all the luxury labels you can think of, such as Tom Ford, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, and even more challenging brands such as Raf Simons. This place has it all — including multilingual staff, which comes in handy if you’re visiting with friends from Europe or Asia.
Pieces in Chinatown is essential if you’re interested in avant-garde clothing brands such as Rick Owens or high-end streetwear like Off-White. The selection is huge, and there is
a secret room upstairs with ultra-rare artisanal European brands (it’s only accessible if you ask nicely). There are also interesting clothing stores on the Paddington stretch of Oxford Street, east of the CBD. You’ll find Parlour X, which has one of Sydney’s best womenswear brand lists, including Céline, Vetements and Australian brands such as Romance Was Born and Maticevski. Also in Paddington is Incu, a great destination for American workwear and preppy styles, plus accessories such as Comme Des Garçons fragrances and candles. Incu has stores in the CBD, too.
Head to the Sydney Fish Market in Glebe and visit Victor Churchill’s little-known branch there called Vic’s Meat Market. The licensed wagyu teppan chef on site will prepare your steak on the spot. There’s no need for any sauces or heavy condiments: just add a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top and boom, you’re in heaven. The SFTM team loves to eat, and we are loyal to a few restaurants. When we’re entertaining a new employee or an important guest, we always take them to Toko in Surry Hills. The crew there has perfected Japanese izakaya-style dining that is very hard to find in Sydney. All Toko’s dishes are made to share, so try to go with a minimum group of four so you can taste a good range. My top picks include kingfish carpaccio, Moreton Bay bug tempura, salmon miso and the beautiful lamb chops. They also offer some of Japan’s rarest whiskies.
I love meat as much as anyone, but if I had to name one pizza place in Sydney that you must try, it would be the all-vegan Gigi Pizzeria over at King Street in Newtown. Gigi’s doesn’t take reservations though, so turn up about 5.30pm to secure your place in the line. Anything later than that and you probably won’t get a table until about 10pm.
Sydney also has some amazing street food and fast food. You can’t come to the city without visiting El Jannah in Penrith, Blacktown, Punchbowl, Campbelltown and Granville. They’re all quite far from the CBD, but seriously, you won’t find anything quite like El Jannah anywhere else in the world. The charcoal chicken is grilled to perfection, and the golden crispy chips and oh-so-famous garlic sauce make for an unbeatable combo.
Everyone knows Sydney has a LOT of good coffee places. My personal favourite is Artificer in Surry Hills, which is the lovechild of Dan Yee (ex-Salvage) and Shoji Sasa (from Mecca and Single Origin). Both guys have won barista competitions in the past and sell nothing but coffee, so you know you’re at the right place. Another casual spot the SFTM team visits a lot is Venue 505, a bare-bones jazz bar in Surry Hills that has live music six nights a week. It’s free entry on some weeknights, there’s good light food and drinks, and the crowd is friendly. For something a little bit stronger, head to The Baxter Inn, tucked away in a dark CBD basement below Clarence Street, for an enormous number of whiskies, including Ardbeg Uigeadail. I also like 10 William St, an Italian restaurant in Paddington, specifically for its wine list, which is experimental but also very reliable. Another top pick for drinks is Charlie Parker’s, hidden under the also-amazing restaurant Fred’s. The architecture and design are what draw me to this place.
If great design is your thing, the art deco bar at The Old Clare Hotel, about 10 minutes walk from the SFTM flagship, is a must-try. It’s a solid pick for accommodation and has a lot of personality. There’s also the Park Hyatt at The Rocks — when my friends from Europe are in town they’ll stay here. If you’re using an online homestay service, Surry Hills, Paddington or Newtown are good options — you’ll be close to some of the places I’ve mentioned. That said, it’s hard to beat renting an apartment in Bondi, even though you’ll be some way from the CBD. The Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is so distinctively Sydney you’ll want to do it every day.
GETTING THERE to book your flight to Sydney, visit www.virginaustralia.com or call 13 67 89 (in Australia).
As told to Dan F Stapleton
Photography by Alicia Taylor