The Department Store


When in Auckland recently, I fulfilled a retail dream by whisking my sister, favourite cousin and brother to The Department Store, brainchild of Karen Walker, Stephen Marr and Dan Gosling.

Upon entering the store, we were met with vintage bikes parked out front, an espresso bar with blackboard menus, mustachioed baristas, crates for seats, mason jar thingimibobs  and hipster, hipster, blah blah blah #almondmilk.

From the moment we entered, I realised that my purse was shaking in my bag. Simply, there are no bad sections in this store – Top Shop lurks upstairs, with an array of painfully hip brands like Stolen Girlfriends Club, Cheap Monday, Deadly Ponies, I Love Ugly, Lonely Hearts Club and of course, Karen Walker (everything).

On the Department Store website it says that.. “the vision is to create a single environment where one can experience the very best from the worlds of design, beauty, fashion, and interiors.” Overwhelmingly, the store succeeds. After a short spell of hyperventilation, I continued to peruse the racks, gently caressing all of the things with trembling fingers, but there was a natural, strong tide, which pulled my sister and I straight over to old faithful.

In a combination of happenstance (read: happy dance) and pure genius, our visit coincided with a big sale. Now, for those of you familiar with Karen Walker (not Hi There), even sale items can send you spare, so careful selection is crucial. Of course I needed a grey marle t-shirt dress with gold zips, and an Amy Winehouse floral number with frilly sleeves. And yes, my sister had to have that blue & white gingham skirt with a yellow self-belt. Of course.

We were staying in Manukau, so it was quite a trek to Takapuna, but well worth the drive across town, in our embarrassingly bold lime and purple Jucy van. The local area is a tad random – the building appears like a tasteful mothership that’s been dropped into mystical Takapunaland, by the style gods.


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