When Eva Galambos opened Parlour X in Sydney in 2001, it was shortly after the Olympics and the mood was buoyant.
“Sydney had matured into a progressive, international city and the Australian fashion scene was looking very healthy,” Galambos tells Broadsheet. “But from a retail perspective, Sydney lacked a luxury multi-brand boutique with collections straight off the international catwalks.”
We may have just hosted the world’s top sporting event, but when it came to the game of retailing top-name international designers, Australia was lagging behind.
“Australian stores were often receiving collections six months later,” says Galambos. “Those fortunate enough to travel would return from Europe with the latest clothing and accessories, but the rest of us would have to wait.”
Galambos, a highly driven and energetic individual, does not do waiting well. She opened Parlour X in July 2001 at Five Ways in Paddington, with Vivienne Westwood, Viktor & Rolf and Balenciaga among the luxury labels gracing her racks.
“I saw an opportunity to represent unknown or previously inaccessible brands to Sydney,” she says. “My first day was heartfelt because friends and family came to visit, but the days that followed weren’t as bustling because I chose a destination location with very little passing trade. I realised very quickly that I needed to drive marketing and work hard to bring people in, which was an invaluable lesson in achieving long-term business success.”
Parlour X is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary – festivities were put on hold due to lockdown – and with the arrival in Australia of luxury e-tailers, as well as the proliferation of homegrown bricks-and-mortar boutiques, Galambos’s drive to succeed is more important than ever.
“Today’s consumers are spoiled for choice and our online competitors compete ruthlessly on price, which has created increased pressure for many independent Australian businesses like ours,” says Galambos. “But where we have always prevailed is in our curated edit and our service, through a website that offers same-day delivery for metropolitan Sydney and next-day delivery Australia-wide, and also in our bricks-and-mortar store.”
In 2015 Parlour X relocated that store to the historic, wonderfully grand St John’s Church on Oxford Street.
“The church was literally the answer to our prayers,” says Galambos. “I instantly knew it had all the ingredients to be the fashion and cultural hub I’d always dreamed of creating.”
Today that includes stocking exclusive capsule collections by Australian brands such as Ellery and Bassike, as well as mentoring local talent, hosting industry events and judging Australian fashion awards.
“I am so delighted when I watch emerging designers realise their talents,” says Galambos.
Despite the recent impact of Covid-19, which created delays with international orders and prompted the closure of the boutique during two lockdowns, she says “the future is bright for Parlour X. We know exactly who we are, who our clients are and how to provide them with an unparalleled level of customer service. We offer a boutique experience that is truly one-of-a-kind.”