The Land Down Under
While in Australia I had the sensation that nothing else mattered, but not in an ethnocentric or self-centered way. It was as if when in Australia you are zoned-out from the rest of the world, everyone seemed so happy and untroubled. This feeling made me think about a conversation I had with one of my clients at Gucci months before my departure. While talking to her about the Australian economy she noted that, Australia had not gone into a recession in 2008 because they weren't as over borrowed as the U.S. For that reason, Australia is the only advanced economy that did not enter a deep recession during the global financial crisis. I asked my self if this blissful feeling I noticed in Australian's faces owed itself to an assurance that the government was doing the right thing? That the government's main concern was to achieve a life of quality for all as opposed to one of extravagance for an elite few.
As it happens to be when measuring equality, the CIA's World Fact book measures Australia's GINI Index to be 30.3. The GINI Index ranges from 0 to 100, 0 representing perfect equality and 100 perfect inequality. Meaning, that Australia fairs relatively well in terms of equality (the United States' index for example was 45.0). I then began to wonder how equality affected the luxury goods sector. There didn't seem to be a frenzy among Australian's for the next luxury bag...
Luxury goods, as a symbol of wealth, have always been a way to lift the upper classes above the rest of society. They have become something to yearn for and attempt to attain in the quest for success. Once a woman has bought her first luxury bag, she has made it!
As film producer Jen Doumanian offers in discussing the significance of the luxury emporium Bergdorf Goodman in the the film Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's:
But if you belong to a society where there is more or less and equal distribution of income, where there isn't this yearning to 'trade up', do luxury goods hold any value?
I explore this topic in a blog post to come. Until then, enjoy a recap of my trip to Australia:
Where to eat: After my fifteen hour flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, all that was on my mind was food (like most airlines, Quantas' vegan selection was less than desirable). Upon arriving to Melbourne my friend took me to the best brunch spot in town Feast of Merit. Its interior was ethereal and just what a starving vegan needed. For drinks head to Naked for Satan. Their menu is full of tasty drinks and they have a roof-top patio with an amazing view of the Melbourne CBD. On another night I visited The Corner Hotel, a live music venue with a roof-top. They had some amazing tacos à la vegan, and it's a great place to Australian people watch and finish the night.
Where to shop: Melbourne is where you want to shop. You'll get a sense of Australian style, which I find gets lost in Sydney. Head to St. Kilda, which is full of amazing shops and visit INDUSTRIE and Globe. They have the coolest selection of men's clothes and shoes.
Where to eat: My friend and I stayed in the the area of Surry Hills, which has the highest concentration of restaurants and pubs in the Sydney area. After brunch we decided to grab some drinks at The Argyle. The following day we explored Bondi Beach (I have now made it my goal to buy a home there...), and we finished the night by grabbing drinks at Papa Gede’s Bar, and finished the night at the Ivy.
We stayed at the Port Douglas Retreat. Port Douglas is about 45 min away from the closest airport, and there are vans that transport visitors every hour. The town is very small, and not the most vegan-friendly, so we decided to cook at home a lot. With that said, you must go to the Coffee Club, best latte ever.
The following day, we were up early as we had scheduled a scuba diving exploration through PADI. Going scuba diving has been by far one of the most amazing and life-threatening experiences of my life. This is because I actually don't know how to swim, but I wasn't going to pass by the opportunity to scuba and explore the Great Barrier Reef. I came out a life, and completely re-invigorated by the breath taking experience.
Music to me is very important me. Specially because it serves as a source of recollection post my travels. While in a shop in the streets of St. Kilda I found myself enamored by the beat of "Sundream" by Rufus. Their songs perfectly embody my mood while in Australia.
Later that same day, I decided to satisfy my craving for juices. While at a juice shop I was introduced to another amazing band, London Grammar. The lead singer's voice will transport you to another world. Later I would come to discover, that one my favorite songs from the band was remixed by my favorite DJ Bonobo. Enjoy both of them below: