Atlas Divine

Posted on November 26, 2013 by Josh Zimmer

When Atlas Divine opened its doors two decades ago, Leederville was an entirely different place.
Aside from being the first fashion retailer on the Oxford Street strip, there was no train station, Greens & Co was still a greengrocers and Kailis Brothers was a hardware store.
As owners De Williams and Jeff Bullen celebrate their store's 20th birthday this week, they also celebrate surviving years of difficult retail conditions that have sent many others packing.
"Our friends thought we were crazy opening up a shop here," Bullen said. "There were no cafes, the pub smelled like something had died in there and the ANZ bank was held up something like six times in two years - it was a very intense neighbourhood back then."

The pair, who met through friends at the age of 20, set up shop in the "druggy" neighbourhood despite their friends' reticence, because "it felt like it was about to happen"... and they were right, but it took some time to get there. "The first couple of months we opened up I had to sleep in the building because we couldn't get insurance," Bullen said.

When cafes began opening there were "queues down the street" and a refurb of the Leederville Hotel both eliminated the stench and created Wednesday and Sunday sessions that enticed people to the area.

"Within two years of us being open, people were coming in saying 'How much for this building, you want to sell your lease?' "We said 'No, we'll stay.''
Heath Ledger frequented the store when he was in Perth, and now it's West Coast Eagles, Wildcats players - although Williams says they are notoriously hard to fit - and sibling musicians Luke Steele (Empire of the Sun) and Katy Steele (Little Birdy).

The store now stocks more than 80 labels - several that no-one else in Perth stocks - and 1,000 pairs of jeans and Williams says they've succeeded where others have failed because "the clothing hasn't aged with us".


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