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Published January 3rd 2013
Grab a great deal before they hit the big time and fly away
You'll find this quaint market in the unlikeliest of places--in the heart of Melbourne CBD at Melbourne Central. The historic Shot Tower in Melbourne Central would have many stories to tell if it could only speak. The latest in line would be all about the mysterious designer market that sprang up almost overnight at its foot. When I first saw it, I thought it must be some random fly-by-night operation that would be gone by the end of the week leaving no trace that it'd ever happened.
But it looks like they're here to stay. About 100 designers take turns at the site to present their products. Each of them get about 3 months in which to make a mark. The idea is to draw emerging artists from the woodwork and onto a platform where they get to showcase their creativity and artistry in design, clothes, jewellery, handicrafts, and various other media. So if you're a struggling artist looking to wow the world with your as yet undiscovered talents, you may want to check out the emerging designer market.
For the rest of us whose creativity is limited to making a sandwich or tying shoe laces, here's an opportunity to get an eyeful of stuff that you will not find in shops or anywhere else for that matter. Individuality is the mantra here. Nothing here is mass produced and so chances are what you find is truly yours and nobody else's. This is where you can catch a designer before they become all famous and move to inner city boutiques where you won't get the time of the day for free.
While some of the products do appear to have the potential to do just that, others didn't quite shake the ground under my feet. Some of the prices were ridiculous and almost at par with those on Level 2 which is where you'll find obscure international brands that nobody goes to, not with shopping on their minds anyway. But the good news is you can bargain and get better rates if you're thick-skinned enough to engage in such mental games. I attempted to do so and was able to bring down the price of a silk garment by $12.
You will find new brands in their fledgling state not quite ready to be slotted in any specific section of the market. Some names that jumped out at me were Jam Jeans, Coelho, and jewellery by Angi Mac. So if you're lucky you might find something upmarket at bargain rates. Just watch out for the opposite happening. Clothes, jewellery, bags, accessories, and art work were at the forefront. Even though limited to a small area, it appeared to be crammed with stuff and you could easily spend up to 40 minutes here.
It is this market ambience that is perhaps what draws in the crowds. There is an easy laid back appeal to browsing through stuff at a market place with no pressure to buy or move on. At Emerging Designer Market you get to go through designer stuff as you would at a trash and treasure weekend market.
So it all adds up to a nice experience whether you're simply curious or seriously looking for new stuff. This quaint market that is so out of character with the uptown image of Melbourne Central is surely a diversion in the right direction because it certainly makes you pause for a second look and promise that you will drop in on your way back; which is what I did.