We know it’s a big call but we’re putting it out there after our retail tour there last week. There’s a lot of internationals heading here (H&M, Muji, Uniqlo) for property/ financial reasons, but it’s also a city that knows how to run a shop. So here’s our top 5: 1. H&M: This might be the best H&M store we’re been to. The location (Bourke St Mall) and environment (old GPO building) make this store. The classic (expensive looking) nature of the environment makes the cheap clothes look even better value. Rumour has it this stores forecast of $70 million in sales will be broken and be more like $100 million. Boom! 2. Emporium: Although it’s not quite finished, this mall is unlike anything we’ve seen in Australia. Beautifully designed, but more than that the selection of shops is probably the best in the country (see Uniqlo and Muji below). It was a joy to walk – because it feels like it has been designed with the customer in mind. Oh and it has a bitcoin ATM. 3. Uniqlo: It’s hard to go past this store. They do entrances well, even when they’re in a mall. Uniqlo have taken over the Londsdale Street front with mannequins dressed in their clothes (like they do in their other locations). Then when you get the store, the experience is superb. There’s no massive logo reminding you where you are…you know from everything around the store as you enter. It’s a great example of getting an entrance right. 4. Koko Black: This brand’s stores are perfect, they show that Koko know what they do – Chocolate. Instead of making their expansions into café and coffee ‘front and center’ (like Max Brenner), they keep this behind the chocolate action. Yes, you can get a coffee but the machine is at the back. The staff are fabulous, wanting you to enjoy the experience, letting you try and taste as you please. Also interesting to note they’re doing corporate and wedding gifting. 5. Muji: Muji is the dark horse in the fleet of new international arrivals in Australia. It’s probably the least known brand but it’s formidable competitor. They’ve carved-out their space in other markets – like the anti-uniqlo – a little darker, more about lifestyle private label, but still very Japanese. Their stores in Chadstone and the Emporium are similar to their OS versions (which are lite versions of their Japanese concept – which has a supermarket, café, optometrist etc).