Tucked behind Rokeby road’s Subiaco Bookstore is Kubank Designs, a quaint, genuine vintage and design shop, run by husband and wife team Barry & Pam for decades.
Designer Pam Kubank and husband Barry have been in Subiaco for 30 years and at their current location for ten. Although the name suggests a focus on design, they also stock a hefty collection of vintage pieces sourced from the city of thrift and vintage, Melbourne. The mixture of vintage and custom designed pieces means you will always leave with a truly unique item owned exclusively by you.
With an eclectic selection, Pam told us that her design ideas blossom from the chosen fabric, and she figures out where to go with the style from there. This results in a huge variety in design, although there is a clear love of a 1950s ballerina shape.
As all designs are handmade by Pam alone, there are often rich backstories behind the designs. For example, the above top has been years in the making – the 1970s yellow and red tie-dye velvet cuffing the bottom was sourced many moons ago and resided in the linen closet, until many years later, when Pam and Barry found the flowery, silk material that makes up the other half of the top. They deemed the materials a perfect fit, and the design was born.
Having started off as a designer exclusively, Pam dipped her toes into the vintage clothing scene after a client offered to source the pieces for her from Melbourne warehouses. It’s not an easy job, but it pays off when you’re able to source genuine vintage, such as coats from the 1940s, which she has sold in the past. On identifying true vintage over the not so genuine on the market, Pam told us,
“You can tell from the lining, it’s much better quality than what you find nowadays. Also, the obscure label often indicates that it’s genuine.”
We were even lucky enough to get a peek at Pam’s silk wedding dress, designed and hand-made by Pam herself. Having been married in Subi’s St Andrews Church, Pam and Barry opted for the unusual night-time wedding, with candles lining the church walls lighting up the room.
Pam’s latest design is the above black petticoat-style skirt and matching black embroidered coat. Having only made the ensemble last week, the skirt and coat sold almost immediately: no surprises there.
As a veteran designer, Pam has a loyal base of customers who keep coming back for a quality design, and she has even crafted clothing for the likes of Patria Jafferies, one of the founders of the Dome Cafe empire, and mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
The pricing is very reasonable for genuine vintage, with pieces ranging from $45-$70. In terms of her own custom designs, Pam quotes prices between $100-$600, depending on the chosen fabric of course. Or, if you’re after a custom-made wedding gown for your special day, Pam told us that she charges up to $1200 – if you’ve ever looked at wedding dresses, you’ll be flabbergasted by that price.