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28th August, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 28th August 2012

Melbourne's newest retail spot for men - Épatant in Collingwood.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Épatant shares a space with cafe Mina-no-ie in Collingwood.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Épatant co-owner Lachlan Smeeton shows of a couple of favourite pieces from the store's eclectic product selection.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

In our hunt for suitably stylish manly product to showcase for MAN WEEK, we quickly came to the conclusion that the phrase 'for discerning gentlemen' is seriously overused.  For the sake of variety, in its place I suggest substituting 'posh things for trendy blokes', or similar.

Nonetheless, if there's ONE local store touting this claim with 100% accuracy, it's Collingwood's latest and greatest retail destination, Épatant - which means 'splendid' in French.  Indeed, it is a truly splendid retail experience.

Épatant is a store which had me feverishly instagramming within moments of my visit.  Even on the crappest Melbourne day, it will truly fill you with the most heart-warming 'l love this city!' feeling.   There's just something so uniquely 'Melbourne' about the eclectic product selection, slightly random location, and the vast industrial space Épatant shares with super cool new cafe Mina-no-ie, run by the clever creators of much-loved nearby establishment, Cibi.

Épatant showcases an inspired edit of the very best products for men across various categories - including leathergoods, cycling, grooming, stationery and 'seduction'!  From Cutler and Gross eyewear to the most stunning leather accessories from cult label Isaac Reina, to the softest superfine cotton T-shirts from luxury UK brand Sunspel (founded in 1860!), Épatant’s product offer is so expertly curated, you could quite happily switch your brain off and let store co-owner Lachlan Smeeton choose your entire wardrobe for the rest of your life.

Speaking of Mr Smeeton, what a champ!  He is the very epitome of the modern dapper gentleman, and reminds me a little too much of Stephen Fry's brilliant character in Jeeves and Wooster.  It's the way he tilts his head in deference when chatting to you, exchanges business cards with both hands, and upon completion of your sale, insists on stepping around the counter to hand you your beautifully wrapped package, with a level of customer service I have not seen outside of Japan!

Just to really drive this point, here is an example of an email Lachlan recently sent me in preparation for today's post (paraphrased for efficiency) -

Lucy, good afternoon.

Thank you for the note; I can understand most acutely how busy you must at present and, in any event, it’s great to hear from you.

In terms of the queries you have please find some interim responses as follows;

Project Épatant really started to develop in earnest around 18 months ago; in essence we drew up a long list of the brands and product selections that we had been particularly excited about discovering, and then looked at what would be involved in stocking these in a (then) hypothetical Melbourne retail environment.

Right now we’re very excited about seeing our space enjoy the warmth and sun of a Melbourne spring; given we’re operating out of what is very much still a big warehouse of a building.  There’s also a standing engagement that we have to find ourselves in Verona come November, which is certainly a highlight of the year.  Beyond this we’ve just received some lovely Berg & Berg scarves in, and the next iteration of stock selections are well and truly underway and we’ll be likewise looking forward to seeing these arrive into Peel Street over the coming months.

Mille mercis, bon weekend et bonne soirée.

Kind regards,

Lachlan Smeeton.

What a star.  Who would refuse a Berg & Berg scarf from this man!?  Not I!

I must end this post with just one more brilliant quote from Epatant's press material.

'Our collections and collaborators will evolve with time, measured against the seasons, our mood, and always tempered against the evils of mediocrity'.

Ha!  Love it.

33 Peel Street
Collingwood VIC
Australia 3066

Ph. (03) 9417 7739

Products at Épatant in Collingwood.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Épatant signage and products.  Photos - Sean Fennessy.

Épatant details.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

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