Bettina Melick’s family has worked in the clothing industry since the 1940s. She remembers going into the family store after school as a five year old and over five decades spent in “the rag trade”, she’s learnt plenty about the business.
Bettina put many of those lessons into action when she and her sisters opened Looking Glass boutique in Adelaide Arcade at the end of the seventies. Not long after that she launched the Hanger Lane brand with a store in Melbourne Street. It was an idea that had been percolating since she passed the underground station of that name as a 19 year old living in London and that origin is visible in the store’s logo, which adds a little flair to the classic tube station design.
After stepping away from the business to raise a family – Bettina has five children herself – she decided to resurrect the Hanger Lane brand six years ago and following stints at markets and on King William Road, she found a permanent home in Norwood Mall. Now the colourful racks of clothing out the front of her shop are a permanent fixture, with everything from sequinned tops and colourful dresses to linen pants and corporate wear.
But it’s not just the broad selection of clothes that sets Hanger Lane apart. “What we offer that is different to any other store is my expertise,” Bettina explains, and her highly trained eye is Hanger Lane’s biggest asset. There are thousands of pieces on display at any given time, and she handpicks every single one of them.
“When I go into the fashion houses, they go 'make way for Bettina',” she laughs. “Every single style I buy, I try it on first so I get the fit of it.” It means she has an intimate sense for how the clothes will sit on a range of body types and having had a mastectomy herself, she derives great satisfaction from helping women dress their changing bodies.
“I don't have any bad body image,” she says proudly. “I had to get out and live the way I am, and seeing that encourages and motivates a lot of people. We're sensitive to people's body image needs and encourage a good self image and an acceptance of differences.”
“We have everything from size 6 to size 26 and I love to do makeovers. In other stores they might find one or two items here and there, but here they can buy an entire wardrobe. That’s because we talk to the customers to get a feel for their needs and an understanding of their lifestyle. .”
Hanger Lane is currently offering a $20 gift voucher with any full price purchase valued at over $60