Sandy chic

Last Updated: 24 Mar 2015
Lily Yeang

With an ever-increasing number flocking to the town’s one-of-a-kind retailers, Dunsborough has become the place where beach meets boutique.

Heading down south for a sneaky getaway, romantic weekender or long family vay-cay? When it comes to picking the perfect spot, each place has its own drawcard.

The surf might lure you to Yallingup, the river-meets-ocean to Augusta. Margaret River entices with its vines and wines, while Busselton's 2km jetty and underwater life will have you hooked. But what about Dunsborough?

Sure, the former beach-shack town boasts sun-dappled shores, sexy surfer dudes, eco retreats and golf estates, but it's also home to a collection of boutique clothing stores that not only emulate the town's relaxed lifestyle, but also provides exclusive brands found nowhere else in Western Australia.


"With stores like Supernova, Milc, Laneway, and prestigious boutique Adam Heath, our region has more to offer than just food and wine," says Supernova's Nina Johnston. "All our stores stock brands you simply cannot find in Perth.

"We import Nat & Nin, Ancient Greek Sandals, LemLem and, more recently, Uma and Leopold," says Nina, who has owned the shoe boutique for more than seven years. "We do a lot of our own imports, including going to trade fairs in Paris and Barcelona. This means there is no distribution in Australia, and in some cases, means there may only be two stores representing a particular label in WA."

It's these eclectic labels that help to elevate the town's threads from beach to chic.

Judy Burbury, the owner of designer store Adam Heath, jumped at the opportunity to open a second shop in Dunsborough. She, along with her daughter Angela, travels the world four times a year to bring unusual, exotic and luxury items by brands such as Manebi, Bounce and Le Sens to their new store.

"We are excited to be bringing up-to-the-minute international and Australian labels to fit the lifestyle down here," Judy says. "We feel very familiar with the demographics of Dunsborough and the southwest region."

Adam Heath.

Judy has been holidaying in the area for more than forty years, and realised a large proportion of her clientele spent their holidays there, too. She soon found there was a high demand from the community for casual, yet good-quality, luxury brands.

"My daughter Angela, who joined the business eighteen months ago, has put a fresh approach into the business and has been a driver in the opening in Dunsborough," Judy says. "We had been thinking about opening for many years, and felt the time was right, thanks to the expansion of the area and more people relocating to live."

It was a good move. While retail might be suffering in the city – Wheels & Dollbaby, Ruth Tarvydas and Burberry are just some of a number of stores to close their doors in recent years – Dunsborough has continued to flourish.

And along with its growing local clientele, the shopping scene also attracts large numbers of tourists and travellers.

"Dunsborough is such a popular holiday destination that we have repeat business year after year from some amazing customers, who we love," says Laneway Boutique manager Liza Gunter. "Our store reflects the laid-back yet fashion-forward aesthetic of our local customer base and loyal year-round visitors."

Liza says that there's a huge surf culture thanks to the relaxed, beach lifestyle that exists in town, something Laneway reflects in its clothes, staff and ambience. "All of the shops reflect this culture to some extent," she says. "However, the shopping scene in Dunsborough has experienced huge growth. Dunsborough is definitely viewed as a 'shopping Mecca' and it has become a destination for those wanting a unique shopping experience."

Milc Homewares.

Eleven years ago, that wasn't exactly the case. "When we were kids, we holidayed down here and I grew up like most West Australians – on the beach," says Nicole Cartledge, from Milc Homewares. "Back then, there was not a lot of choice in town. There were some cute shops, but not a lot of variety. As it turned out, we opened at the same time as the new Coles complex, which brought with it more fun shops and, of course, more happy shoppers."

Nicole says that the influx of shops within the area allowed Milc to evolve into a lifestyle store, stocking more casual Australian and overseas labels than initially intended. Those labels now include Bassike, Ginger & Smart, Zimmermann, Spell Designs, Goddess of Babylon, AG Denim, and Citizens of Humanity Denim.

And with brands like that, not to mention the relaxed vibe, one-on-one customer service and the best window-shopping views around, it's no wonder Dunsborough's our next stop shop for fashion, sun and holiday fun.

Shop crawl

Who to visit, why and where.

  • Adam Heath: Go for the range of AESOP body products and Eucalypt Homewares, which feature perfectly alongside high-end, holiday-inspired clothing by James Perse, Rag & Bone, Frame Denim, and Banjo & Matilda, to name a few. Shop 3, 26-34 Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough (08) 9750 5625.
  • Boutique Eco: Go for its philosophy, which is to use and sell textiles that leave
    a lighter footprint on the planet. This includes simple, transeasonal wears made of merino, cashmere, bamboo, organic cotton and linen. 904 Commonage Road, Dunsborough (08) 9759 1933,
  • Fusion Blue: Go for local label Zephyr, which fills the store's racks with its silky and colourful kimonos, dresses, tees and bottoms, not to mention cute threads for kids. Shop 3/237 Naturaliste Terrace, Dunsborough (08) 9755 3018,
  • Laneway Boutique: Go for the fusion of Australian and international labels with antique display cabinets filled with hidden treasures and chic jewellery finds.
    Shop 21, Dunsborough Centrepoint Shopping Centre, 55 Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough (08) 9759 1806,
  • Milc Homewares: Go for a little bit of homespiration, with the likes of dreamcatchers, candles and cushions available, as well as one-off pieces with which to fill your wardrobe. Shop 2, Dunsborough Village Shopping Centre, Naturaliste Terrace, Dunsborough (08) 9759 1186,
  • Supernova: Go for the shoes! Get your feet covered in the best of beachside footwear – from sandals made of leather, to sexy designer heels. 31/33 Dunn Bay Road, Dunsborough (08) 9759 1166,

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