#1149 The Department Store is the best in the world – so says Monocle

With Karen Walker outside The Department Store

The Department Store is awesome. I’ve been saying so since it first opened. In fact, my exact words were:

“What better way to while away an afternoon than a trip to The Department Store. Clothing – check. Knick knacks, furniture, books, art – check. Did I mention the salon? The real peppermint tea? The particularly attractive staff? I’m already petitioning for a second, south o’ the bridge location.”

Well now I can say I told you so, and boo the haters who commented that it wouldn’t work, that it would fail, that it was a dumb idea… Because Monocle Magazine, the global arbiters of cool when it comes to luxury, travel and shopping, have come out and called it the number one new store in the world, praising its ‘vernacular’ of celebrating local talent. And those guys know what they’re talking about. They devote their entire lives to roaming the globe seeking out the best of everything. And they’re bloody good at what they do – people who know say they’re people who know.

Here’s the thing. In my opinion, New Zealanders are very cautious people. We judge first, and ask questions later. It takes us a while to warm up to things. And we generally don’t like anything until it’s been validated by somebody or something bigger than us. You see it time and time again – New Zealanders being shunned by their own until they go out into the world and make something of themselves. Then they’ll come back and be heaped with praise. Or the opposite happening, where a non-New Zealander will come here and suddenly be seen as the global expert on something… just because they’re from London or New York or Sydney.

I must admit that when I heard about The Department Store’s award, I shook my head in disbelief and thought to myself, ‘Surely there must be a better store somewhere else.’ But that’s just the cultural cringing New Zealander in me rearing its ugly head. I’ve travelled a lot in the last year and I can honestly say that I haven’t been into a cooler store. Not in New York, not in London, not in Paris or Milan or Los Angeles.

So congratulations to Karen Walker, the Black Box guys and Stephen Marr – plus the other pop up stores within The Department Store – for creating a retail location that really does hold up on the world stage.

What they say is true – a shore store’s a shore thing.


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  1. Anonymous says

    That is great news. Well done TDS. HOWEVER – this is based on perception alone. Of course it is a super cool place and has super cool stuff. Many of the so called “haters” never denied that. The issue for many of them is “will it work?” Not in cool factor validation but in cold hard financial terms. Is it getting people through the doors that are spendign money? There is nothing that you can’t get elsewhere and as you yourself say Isaac – “How about one south side of the bridge?”

  2. PonsonbyRed says

    “in a sea of five $2 shops down the road and two Annah Strettons” …. ha ha brilliant.

    I thought it was just me who had a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes whenever I see Annah Stretton’s clothing. It’s just so….. just, no.

  3. says

    I think it’s a great accolade and I’d be singing it from rooftops if I were the Department Store team … the Monocle nod is well deserved recognition of a strong idea that took guts and brains to pull off. TDS have done it with magic and I say hats off.

  4. Anonymous says

    Don’t forget that Tyler Brule and the team at Monocle are also fans of Bryan Adams…..mmmmm, just because they think it is good doesn’t necessarily mean it is!

  5. says

    i really like the Department Store, Will it work or not is still too early to say, either way i love how someone in NZ did soomething different.to be top 25 in the wrold is abit silly have they never been to hong kong or japan? these sort of concept is old news over there.

  6. Anonymous says

    Out of interest did Monocle send a reporter and or photographer to investigate the store?

    And who was rated as the best store in the world? as I believe you said TDS was rated by Monocle as the best “new store”

    Were there any other international stores listed in the same article?

    Any chance of printing a copy of the article for us?

  7. Anonymous says

    I heard that too – Topshop would be great – a point of difference and an actual reason to trek across the bridge. THAT makes sense.

  8. HG Is Concerned. says

    I thought Monocle would have more taste than too rate something number one that features SGC and a totally unoriginal concept (DSM, Opening Ceremony etc). Also I get the feeling that you, Isaac don’t necessarily give anything credit until someone or thing that you aspire to be like, like Monocle give it the thumbs up.

  9. Anonymous says

    Well done to the Dept Store Crew. As an ex Pat Kiwi living in NYC for the last 10 years it’s still funny to see the same ‘Tall Poppy ” Syndrome. The Monocle crew are a well traveled bunch, and the fact they voted Department store number one is a great achievement.. They aren’t claiming the place is reinventing the wheel , rather just doing it the best. Also, by not choosing the Department Store, does not equate to some other New Zealand store being ranked. Its merely a top 25 in the world. Congratulations for being ranked by Monocle, an amazing travel , lifestyle magazine with a truly cult following. More so than some random small town minded haters dissecting it and evaluating it in financial terms….. It was voted best new store….Do you need to meet an accountant after seeing an amazing film to validate it???
    As far as Isaac needing validation? weird. He’s not saying it’s cool BECAUSE Monocle say its cool, he’s letting us know that Monocle voted it number ONE. Isaac, well done for reporting on New Zealanders making great achievements and not falling into the trap of being a jaded and spiteful New Zealand Journalist…

  10. Michael says

    I’m quite apprehensive about this. Tom Morris who is the Cultural Writer for Monocle was sent by Monocle to visit New Zealand and feature stores that should be given recognition. Monocle didn’t give TDS the number one position. This was simply a numerical order. To then claim it is the best store in the world, that’s dishonest. The magazine features many stores on a constant basis. TDS should be happy enough that Tom Morris did feature them. I’m guessing there aren’t many other stores anyway?

    With respect to Monocle, they like any store that appeases with a retail environment liken to fine dining. TDS should be commended for having a good retail concept and one that serves its customer base well whilst also being attentive but to get ahead with saying, ‘We’re Number 1’? TDS are lucky enough that Monocle did make the trip to NZ.

  11. Anonymous says

    Too true Michael, though one can see by looking at a copy and the layout how it could be interpreted as no 1 at first glance. Regardless, apart from the fact that TDS are lucky to have had monocle visit, they did place them on the first opener page with a a nice graphic number 1. A bit cynical though to write off the article because as you say ”I’m guessing there aren’t many other stores anyway’ I’m guessing you are a fellow new Zealander by your support and enthusiasm. Sure , Maybe not many new stores in New Zealand to chose from, but the special feature wasn’t about covering every country in the world.They could have skipped New Zealand altogether. So, if as you say, in the entire world there was a shortage of interesting new stores compared to the ones featured, then regardless of position it is a great acheivement for all 25. Thanks for putting them back in their place. Nothing worse than New Zealanders showing off right?

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