Followers of high-end business style are in the pink this week with the Australian-first opening of one of the world's most exclusive shirt-and-tie retailers in Melbourne's Collins Street.
It is the first of several Thomas Pink stores – known simply as Pink – planned for the eastern seaboard. Negotiations are continuing for sites in Sydney and Brisbane to match the prestige of the flagship Melbourne store's location in the heart of the city's financial district.
The brand traces its heritage back to the late 18th century when Thomas Pink hand-made the distinctive red hunting coats worn by riders on fox hunts, which despite their colour came to be known as "hunting pinks".
The modern-day iteration of the company was founded in the late 1980s and is headquartered in the heart of London's fashion district. Pink shirts have been available in Australia for the past two years from retailer David Jones, but spokesman Tony Witts says the time is right to establish a bricks-and-mortar presence.
"We felt the redevelopment of the old Stock Exchange building was a fantastic opportunity in the financial end of the city," says Witts, the group general manager of the Salco Ransal Group, which represents a number of imported fashion brands.
"Eighty per cent of the business is directed towards neckwear and shirting, so it fits the [Melbourne] financial district very well."
Pink is owned by the massive luxury-focused Louis Vuitton group and Witts describes Pink as "probably positioned as the most prestigious shirt and neckwear brand in the world".
"Everyone strives to emulate Thomas Pink," he says. "The mystique around Pink is its uniqueness and its quirkiness."
Pink shirts differ from competitors' offerings because of the high-quality cottons used and "quirky" attention to detail, including pink stitching around button holes, he says.
"People can expect an absolute luxury product, and an element of quirkiness which they won't find from other brands."
Reflecting the company's exclusivity, Pink shirts kick off from $129, while shirts utilising higher-quality materials can cost much more.
Standing in the Melbourne store it is clear that Pink is more than simply a brand name, with a generous proportion of stock resplendent in pinkish hues. But are Australian men ready to wear Pink in pink?
"Australian males are receptive to the colour pink," Witts predicts.
"We don't have the fortune of other markets such as the UK, where UK men are much more comfortable wearing a wider variety of colours. They will wear a lot of pinks and yellows. In our market we can certainly get them into pink and lilacs and lavenders, but pushing them into some of the more female-orientated colours such as yellow can be challenging in a business shirt. Where Thomas Pink picks up those colours is in the neckwear component."
The Melbourne store also includes some womenswear and plans are afoot to beef up its casual offerings as well as introducing a made-to-measure service that is popular with the firm's well-heeled London businessmen.