Buying Australian: why it's no longer a sign of parochialism
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,599,192 (-0.51%)       Melbourne $986,501 (-0.24%)       Brisbane $938,846 (+0.04%)       Adelaide $864,470 (+0.79%)       Perth $822,991 (-0.13%)       Hobart $755,620 (-0.26%)       Darwin $665,693 (-0.13%)       Canberra $994,740 (+0.67%)       National $1,027,820 (-0.13%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $746,448 (+0.19%)       Melbourne $495,247 (+0.53%)       Brisbane $534,081 (+1.16%)       Adelaide $409,697 (-2.19%)       Perth $437,258 (+0.97%)       Hobart $531,961 (+0.68%)       Darwin $367,399 (0%)       Canberra $499,766 (0%)       National $525,746 (+0.31%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,586 (+169)       Melbourne 15,093 (+456)       Brisbane 7,795 (+246)       Adelaide 2,488 (+77)       Perth 6,274 (+65)       Hobart 1,315 (+13)       Darwin 255 (+4)       Canberra 1,037 (+17)       National 44,843 (+1,047)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,675 (+47)       Melbourne 7,961 (+171)       Brisbane 1,636 (+24)       Adelaide 462 (+20)       Perth 1,749 (+2)       Hobart 206 (+4)       Darwin 384 (+2)       Canberra 914 (+19)       National 21,987 (+289)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $770 (-$10)       Melbourne $590 (-$5)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $595 (-$5)       Perth $650 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $700 ($0)       National $654 (-$3)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 (+$10)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $470 ($0)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $460 (-$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $583 (+$1)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,253 (-65)       Melbourne 5,429 (+1)       Brisbane 3,933 (-4)       Adelaide 1,178 (+17)       Perth 1,685 ($0)       Hobart 393 (+25)       Darwin 144 (+6)       Canberra 575 (-22)       National 18,590 (-42)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,894 (-176)       Melbourne 4,572 (-79)       Brisbane 1,991 (+1)       Adelaide 377 (+6)       Perth 590 (+3)       Hobart 152 (+6)       Darwin 266 (+10)       Canberra 525 (+8)       National 15,367 (-221)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.50% (↓)       Melbourne 3.11% (↓)       Brisbane 3.43% (↓)       Adelaide 3.58% (↓)     Perth 4.11% (↑)      Hobart 3.78% (↑)      Darwin 5.47% (↑)        Canberra 3.66% (↓)       National 3.31% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 5.09% (↑)        Melbourne 6.09% (↓)       Brisbane 6.04% (↓)     Adelaide 5.97% (↑)        Perth 7.14% (↓)       Hobart 4.50% (↓)       Darwin 7.78% (↓)       Canberra 5.83% (↓)       National 5.76% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)        National 0.9% (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 28.7 (↓)       Melbourne 30.7 (↓)       Brisbane 31.0 (↓)       Adelaide 25.4 (↓)       Perth 34.0 (↓)       Hobart 34.8 (↓)       Darwin 35.1 (↓)       Canberra 28.5 (↓)       National 31.0 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 25.8 (↓)       Melbourne 30.2 (↓)       Brisbane 27.6 (↓)       Adelaide 21.8 (↓)       Perth 37.8 (↓)       Hobart 25.2 (↓)       Darwin 24.8 (↓)       Canberra 41.1 (↓)       National 29.3 (↓)           
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Buying Australian: why it’s no longer a sign of parochialism

As the Australian made edition of Kanebridge Quarterly magazine hits stands this weekend, we examine the case for purchasing locally made product

By Robyn Willis
Fri, Jun 9, 2023 3:51pmGrey Clock 5 min

Mention Australian made products to family and friends and it’s likely everyone will agree it’s a good thing to do. 

Polling by Roy Morgan as recently as February this year shows 80 percent of shoppers consider buying Australian made products important, mainly because it supports local jobs and the wider economy. The survey also found that 67 percent of shoppers reported buying Australian-made products ‘often’ or ‘always’.

But while most of us are happy to buy, say, Australian made peanut butter or even skin care products, we’re less inclined to choose a locally crafted table over an imported product, mainly because of the price. 

Canberra-based craftsman Rolf Barfoed says COVID changed attitudes to buying local. With many working from home and borders closed to everyone and everything — including many goods manufactured offshore — Australians began to reassess their buying practices, as well as their domestic environments.

“We got quite busy after COVID struck because people were forced to look inwards and instead of going overseas on holiday, they had a bit of money to spend locally,” Barfoed says of his workshop where he manages a team of three. “There were a lot of people working from home and they were looking at their homes more critically.”

Desks and bookshelves were a popular choice, as many looked to properly furnish home offices, while beds and bedside tables also rated highly, providing a sense of sanctuary and comfort during uncertain times.

However, as restrictions lifted and with more people growing concerned about rising cost of living pressures, Barfoed says he has noticed a shift in buying patterns.

“Ever since the threat of recession, things have tightened up and sales have slowed,” he says.

For more stories like this, order your copy of the latest issue of Kanebridge Quarterly magazine here

While some may be put off by the higher costs — a reflection of higher wages being paid to Australian workers — Barfoed says the final price is just the start of the story. He gains most of his work from Sydney and Canberra via word-of-mouth commissions, allowing buyers to connect with their piece of furniture from the start. And some connections are stronger than others.

“In Canberra there is a pool in Manuka and there was a big oak tree over the pool which came down in a storm,” he says. “We had people who had swum in that pool as children who asked if we could make something out of the tree for them, so we created two dining tables. It helps that the timber miller is well connected in town and he has the means to pick up trees like that.”

Most timber, however, is sourced through more traditional avenues, although local timbers have been harder to find since the 2019/2020 bushfires. 

For those after something unique and fit for purpose though, the experience of commissioning from a local maker is unmatched.

“The option for customisation is a big factor and we will tailor it to exactly what the client wants,” Barfoed says. “It is always a nerve wracking experience handing over a piece of furniture. You want the client to be happy with your work.”

Kate Stokes, co-founder of award-winning Melbourne lighting and furniture studio Coco Flip says ‘locally made’ also means shorter lead times and more reliable supply chains for retailers, designers and homeowners.

“We have really good relationships with all our manufacturers which means there’s a lot more quality assurance,” she says. “If something goes wrong, you just send it back to us. You can’t do that so easily if it’s arrived by ship.”

While the products, which include their Coco pendant light, Mayu floor lamp and Sequence dining tables often do cost more upfront than imported items, Stokes says they are better financial investments over the long term.

“We want to design things that people are not going to tire of in five years so our designs are classic, contemporary and able to fit into a range of styles and interiors,” she says. “Construction has to be robust and material choices have to be solid and last a long time.

“We want people to love them for a long time.”

Stokes and co-founder Haslett Grounds also work with longstanding manufacturers such as Specialty Pleaters in Williamstown, which was founded in 1925 and is now the last remaining pleating studio in Melbourne.

“We love working with local manufacturers and Specialty Pleaters have been in business for about 100 years but they are potentially facing closure because production is increasingly going off shore,” Stokes says.

Australian furniture manufacturing legend, Tony Parker, of Parker Furniture fame says if Australians don’t support locally made furniture and homewares, they will cease to exist — and those traditional skills will all but vanish.

“When you buy locally made, the goods are also serviced in Australia and the infrastructure to manufacture is here,” Parker says. “You have apprenticeships for training people in cabinetwork, upholstery and other skilled trades.”

He laments what he sees as the decline in quality of mass produced goods flooding the Australian market from overseas, not just because it means jobs are taken offshore, but that buyers are not getting value for money.

Australian furniture legend Tony Parker laments the quality of furniture imported into Australia

“They have slowly eroded quality,” he says. “Everyone closes on price. In actual fact, people are paying more than they were in the 70s, relative to wages, and it was better made then.

“The retailer is looking for a cheaper price and the customer is not looking at quality.”

Fred Kimel, founder of Handkrafted, which connects Australian makers directly with the public, says buying locally is an investment in the future, in more ways than one.

“The result is (a piece) typically much higher quality than the vast majority of furniture that is manufactured overseas,” Kimel says. Locally made bespoke furniture is made-to-last and will retain value as it can always be sold or passed on — it’s far less likely to find its way into landfill.

“On the sustainability front, our local regulations help to ensure that timber used by local makers is forestry certified and not from unregulated or illegally logged forest timber.”

And if it’s that lovely rush of endorphins experienced when you buy that floats your boat, buying an Australian made product has to be the ultimate shopping high.

Craftsman Josh Pinkus in his Sydney workshop. His work is available through Handkrafted.

“Perhaps one of the biggest draw cards is simply the enjoyable process of working so closely with a local maker,” Kimel says. 

“Clients will often visit their workshops and take much more interest in the selection of raw materials, design decisions and production methods. It’s an experience that lives on through the product.”

Advance Australia fair, indeed.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Why Prices of the World’s Most Expensive Handbags Keep Rising

Designers are charging more for their most recognisable bags to maintain the appearance of exclusivity as the industry balloons

Tue, Mar 5, 2024 3 min

The price of a basic Hermès Birkin handbag has jumped $1,000. This first-world problem for fashionistas is a sign that luxury brands are playing harder to get with their most sought-after products.

Hermès recently raised the cost of a basic Birkin 25-centimeter handbag in its U.S. stores by 10% to $11,400 before sales tax, according to data from luxury handbag forum PurseBop. Rarer Birkins made with exotic skins such as crocodile have jumped more than 20%. The Paris brand says it only increases prices to offset higher manufacturing costs, but this year’s increase is its largest in at least a decade.

The brand may feel under pressure to defend its reputation as the maker of the world’s most expensive handbags. The “Birkin premium”—the price difference between the Hermès bag and its closest competitor , the Chanel Classic Flap in medium—shrank from 70% in 2019 to 2% last year, according to PurseBop founder Monika Arora. Privately owned Chanel has jacked up the price of its most popular handbag by 75% since before the pandemic.

Eye-watering price increases on luxury brands’ benchmark products are a wider trend. Prada ’s Galleria bag will set shoppers back a cool $4,600—85% more than in 2019, according to the Wayback Machine internet archive. Christian Dior ’s Lady Dior bag and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull are both 45% more expensive, PurseBop data show.

With the U.S. consumer-price index up a fifth since 2019, luxury brands do need to offset higher wage and materials costs. But the inflation-beating increases are also a way to manage the challenge presented by their own success: how to maintain an aura of exclusivity at the same time as strong sales.

Luxury brands have grown enormously in recent years, helped by the Covid-19 lockdowns, when consumers had fewer outlets for spending. LVMH ’s fashion and leather goods division alone has almost doubled in size since 2019, with €42.2 billion in sales last year, equivalent to $45.8 billion at current exchange rates. Gucci, Chanel and Hermès all make more than $10 billion in sales a year. One way to avoid overexposure is to sell fewer items at much higher prices.

Many aspirational shoppers can no longer afford the handbags, but luxury brands can’t risk alienating them altogether. This may explain why labels such as Hermès and Prada have launched makeup lines and Gucci’s owner Kering is pushing deeper into eyewear. These cheaper categories can be a kind of consolation prize. They can also be sold in the tens of millions without saturating the market.

“Cosmetics are invisible—unless you catch someone applying lipstick and see the logo, you can’t tell the brand,” says Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Bernstein.

Most of the luxury industry’s growth in 2024 will come from price increases. Sales are expected to rise by 7% this year, according to Bernstein estimates, even as brands only sell 1% to 2% more stuff.

Limiting volume growth this way only works if a brand is so popular that shoppers won’t balk at climbing prices and defect to another label. Some companies may have pushed prices beyond what consumers think they are worth. Sales of Prada’s handbags rose a meagre 1% in its last quarter and the group’s cheaper sister label Miu Miu is growing faster.

Ramping up prices can invite unflattering comparisons. At more than $2,000, Burberry ’s small Lola bag is around 40% more expensive today than it was a few years ago. Luxury shoppers may decide that tried and tested styles such as Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull bag, which is now a little cheaper than the Burberry bag, are a better buy—especially as Louis Vuitton bags hold their value better in the resale market.

Aggressive price increases can also drive shoppers to secondhand websites. If a barely used Prada Galleria bag in excellent condition can be picked up for $1,500 on luxury resale website The Real Real, it is less appealing to pay three times that amount for the bag brand new.

The strategy won’t help everyone, but for the best luxury brands, stretching the price spectrum can keep the risks of growth in check.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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