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Transformation into a hipster hangout

Braddon is undergoing a retail revolution, STEPHANIE ANDERSON reports

Fringe culture is taking over the inner city as Braddon businesses and developers target hipsters with a siren song of vintage clothing and quality coffee.

Lonsdale Street is undergoing an alternative overhaul, as new developments take shape and old favourites are revamped along what was once an industrial strip.

While more than a dozen businesses prepare to open, a new vintage clothing outlet operated by Lifeline has set up shop in the increasingly fashionable thoroughfare.

Store manager, Madelaine Pavey, said the response so far had been ''unbelievably awesome''.

She believed trading would grow as more businesses opened along Lonsdale Street.

''It's going to be a really hip and Melbournesque sort of place,'' she said.

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Born and raised in Canberra, Ms Pavey said the shift towards fringe cultures in the capital had been slow but welcome.

''Somewhere along the line someone turned the light on and thought that this was a really good thing,'' she said.

''Now all those things that were once fringe groups, like vintage clothing and recycled goods, are coming into the forefront.''

Co-editor of Us Folk, a quarterly magazine catering to Canberra's creative circles, Ash Peak said the growing sub culture in the capital originated from the independent arts and music scene.

Ms Peak said the people, primarily aged between 18 and mid-20s, could be recognised by their fashion, which tended to favour skinny-leg jeans and Doc Martens.

''You can kind of spot hipsters,'' she said.

''They always have lovely, button-up vintage shirts that people would have put in the Salvos bin about 20 years ago.''

Ms Peak said it was a savvy business move to appeal to the growing demographic, which has been targeted by developers of a newly refurbished warehouse site at the northern end of Lonsdale Street.

Dubbed Lonsdale Street Traders, the vast construction is the brainchild of retailer and B&T Construction director, Nick Bulum, who said it aimed to not only attract unconventional businesses to the area but also retain the independent locals.

''All these new developments were coming in and we felt like we were going to get lost or left out,'' Mr Bulum said.

''So we thought of this project to 'save' the people that were here from the start and bring in some new people on the same wavelength. We want to keep it independent.''

The 17 pop-up spaces will house the likes of local fashion designers and retailers, as well as a ''raw kind of experimental hair salon''.

Mr Bulum said the space would also become home to a rotation of Canberran artists, who would work both in the onsite studio and the warehouse walls.

''They will be adding to the space, so it will be changing all the time,'' he said.

A few doors down, Lonsdale Street Roasters has also fuelled the strip's transformation by opening an additional cafe and roasting operation last month.

Co-owner Alastair Evans said the shift was necessary, given the growth in business since the local institution opened two years ago.

''We were running out of room,'' he said.

Mr Evans said although the changes along Lonsdale Street were positive, he hoped the strip would not lose too much of its industrial roots. ''Hopefully some of that character remains,'' he said.

Lonsdale Street's hipster revolution has also been noted by property consultancy firm Urbis.

In its recent list of Australia's ''hip'' suburbs, dominated by Sydney and Melbourne, Braddon was one of just two Canberra localities to make the cut.

Based on census data, the report stated that the suburbs were benefiting from a young and educated population that was energetic, ethnically diverse and free from hefty mortgage payments.

''People with these characteristics have a huge appetite for trying new things so restaurants, bars, shops, social groups and most other cultural activity really flourishes,'' it stated.

The report comes as developers gear up for further change on Lonsdale Street, with work on the Alluvion on Lonsdale development set to begin in late January.

The residential and commercial site will neighbour the newly completed Mode 3 development, which is expecting its first residents to move in next month.

Colliers International state chief executive, Paul Powderly, said some commercial buyers were also fitting out spaces within the building.