27 Aug 2012

The ‘Urbis Hip List’ suburbs attract a young demographic who have progressive attitudes, and can often be trend-setters.

From the latest Census data, we’ve identified 21 suburbs, including Collingwood, Fitzroy, and pocket-sized Travancore in Melbourne.  In Sydney, nine suburbs made the list dominated by inner western suburbs such as Camperdown and little known Forest Lodge, with harbourside Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay also included. Highgate and Northbridge in Perth made the list along with Fortitude Valley in Brisbane.

We were also surprised to see Braddon and Canberra City on the list, but poor Adelaide failed to register any hip suburbs at all.

Why these areas are hip is more complex.  Barrie Barton from Right Angle Studio, experts in inner suburban trends, believes that hip suburbs earn their cachet through continual cultural and social innovation. These suburbs all benefit from a population that is young, energetic, educated, ethnically diverse and unshackled by hefty mortgage payments or large family expenses.

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 and helps position the suburb as a hip place to be – full of exciting new things and excitable people.

Identifying these suburbs has a very important economic purpose.  Hip suburbs are at the leading  edge of cosmopolitan trends, and offer an unusually rich source of information on future consumer directions.  Like fashion trends, not everything that happens in a hip suburb will become mainstream, but much of it will be taken up by the broader consumer market, in some form.  The spread of street art into living rooms is a recent example which had its Australian birth via notorious graffiti locations such as Collingwood, Fitzroy, and Brunswick.

Importantly, this innovation also impacts on the property market.  Examples of this ‘innovation-to-mainstream’ effect include New York style warehouse conversions and London style subdivisions of Mansion blocks.  But first-movers may strike a range of naysayers. When warehouse conversions began in the hip-suburbs in the 1990s, they were described as “adventurous”, “modern” and “fresh” but were also subject to campaigns against “insensitive apartment conversions of old warehouses”. Now they are as almost as mainstream as a 3 bedroom brick veneer in the suburbs.

Innovation within hip suburbs impacts on trends in the property market. Photo courtesy of brian washburn
Innovation within hip suburbs impacts on trends in the property market. Photo courtesy of brian washburn via flickr

It just takes a little bit of brave vision to imagine that a once drug-riddled suburb like Collingwood can actually harbour the seeds of innovative new trends.

By understanding these hip suburbs, we can gain a unique front runner advantage. It just takes a little bit of brave vision to imagine that a once drug-riddled suburb like Collingwood can actually harbour the seeds of innovative new trends.