Welcome to the DMARGE Awards 2023, where the team comes together to pick their favourite products and brands that have hit the market this year, granting a collective stamp of approval that reflects our diverse perspectives, discerning tastes, and cross-industry expertise.
Embracing a strict no-sponsored-brands policy, these awards are an unfiltered celebration of products and experiences that have organically captured our hard-earned attention over the past 12 months.
In our quest for authenticity, we’ve immersed ourselves in the latest and greatest of 2023, trying, testing, and experiencing each contender firsthand. This year, we are especially proud to champion Australian brands and initiatives, amplifying the innovation and creativity thriving in our backyard.
So sit back as we take you through the best of the best, as we reveal the winners who have earned their hallowed place in the 2023 DMARGE Awards.
In this DMARGE Awards 2023 story…
- Best New International Hotel
- Best New Australian Hotel
- Best International Airline
- Best Travel Product
- Best New Series ( Streaming )
- Movie Of The Year
- Best Menswear Brand
- Best New Car
- Best Electric Vehicle
- Best New Watch
- Best Men’s T-Shirt
- Most Innovative Watch Release
- Best Men’s Hair Product
- Best Men’s Skin Product
- Best New Cologne
- Best Whisky
- Best Beer
- Best Zero Alcohol Beer
- Best Health Supplement
Best New International Hotel
It should come as no surprise that our winner for the best new international hotel was Atlantis The Royal Dubai. This $2 billion masterpiece, designed by New York firm KPF, was opened in February this year with none other than Beyonce performing a private concert for the 500 guests in attendance. DMARGE was one of the lucky few who went to Dubai to experience the property for themselves.
The new hotel boasts a wide range of restaurants and bars from some of the world’s most notable chefs, including Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Estiatorio Milos by acclaimed Chef Costas Spiliadis and Jaleo by none other than Mr José Andrés. Every room features stunning views of the city or ocean and if you feel like splurging, there are even $100,000-a-night penthouses.
This was by far one of the best experiences we’ve had at DMARGE, which is why it’s our winner of The Best New International Hotel 2023.
Best New Australian Hotel
After many years in the making — and a large proportion of those spent being called an eyesore by less than obliging city residents — the long-awaited opening of W Hotel Sydney not only met but far surpassed any expectations we had for the newly built location from Marriott Bonvoy.
Tasteful and well-appointed rooms are complemented by a cutting-edge spa and wellness centre along with a wonderfully friendly staff.
However, it is W’s food and drink offer that really sets it apart from competitors in the city and far beyond: while the top-floor cocktail bar and artisanal dessert restaurant both offer a delicious take on their specialities, the main restaurant is in a league of its own.
Visit W Hotel Sydney to discover more.
Best International Airline
In a hotly contested space (we flew Emirates updated A380 business class too) that has seen carriers across the board overhauling their offer in the face of new challenges around sustainability and travel in a post-COVID world, Singapore Airlines manages to stay ahead of the pack, offering an additional level of luxury and customer service.
While their recent upgrades to their business class cabin have seen in-seat technology and in-flight cuisine reach brilliant new heights — the latter of which to an especially remarkable extent, constitutes the only in-flight meal our editor has ever truly enjoyed — the work done improving their lounges rounds out a seamless end-to-end experience that is tied together by an incredibly friendly staff.
Best Travel Product
Inspired by the 70s but remodelled for the future, July’s Carry-On Trunk takes a classic design and imbues it with all the mod-cons you could ever want in a carry-on. Sure, it’s significantly pricier and heavier than any of its cheaper counterparts, but we reckon it might just be worth it.
The wheels are seamless and the SilentMove tech lives up to its name for the first time. Capable of giving through the airport for your next business trip or holiday with speed, style, efficiency, and as much heavy-duty flare as you want, this is every inch the James Bond carry-on.
Best New Series (Streaming)
A well-executed adaptation of the celebrated video game series, The Last Of Us was an instant hit when it was released earlier this year. Its strength lies in its ability to tell the human stories that have spawned through the post-apocalyptic world our two protagonists, played by the internet’s favourite daddy Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, are trying to navigate.
Of course, this is fundamentally a show about mushroom-headed zombies. Not quite as passive as the earlier Walking Dead zombies but nowhere near as fast as 28 Days Later, the infected swarms seen roaming around The Last of Us carry the same ominous foreboding that became something of a signature trope throughout the HBO’s series. They’re a constant threat to the surviving population and what little humanity they still hold onto, lurking underground and in the shadows ready to capitalise on any misstep.
The Last of Us is a testament to the success and almost cult-like following of the original game; the second season will only bring with it more unmissable moments within the perilous world it portrays.
Movie Of The Year
Arguably Christopher Nolan’s best-ever opportunity to win his first Oscar, Oppenheimer’s release earlier this year not only marked a collective return to what your w*nky mate would call ‘real cinema’ but represented a global cultural moment never before seen owing to its timing alongside Margot Robbie’s film, Barbie.
Led by the addictive stare of Nolan’s star man, Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer is arguably, Nolan’s magnum opus. It’s a profound inquisition of what can be done, and what should be. It’s an experience that demands your attention from the first frame until the last, with each conflicting layer, narrative and timeline burying deeper throughout the film until it reaches its lasting crescendo.
Of course, Nolan has been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Writing and Best Director in the past, but it feels as though the sheer magnitude and unprecedented momentum generated by Oppenheimer deserves to be immortalised at this year’s ceremony.
Best Menswear Brand
A 12-year overnight success.
It would be remiss of us to look anywhere other than Australia for our best menswear brand of 2023. Thankfully it wasn’t too hard to select Venroy as this year’s winner. Venroy continues to go from strength to strength with their men’s collections.
Their range of relaxed shirts, trousers and swimwear now sits nicely in a premium space and offers a distinct difference from other menswear brands in the country. Geometric patterns and fun patterned shirts make them the go-to place for Summer wardrobe staples and European holiday essentials.
The brand continues to expand its retail footprint having taken over a massive new flagship retail space on Hall Street in Bondi Beach.
Best New Car
With a COVID hangover and widespread economic gloom and doom, 2023 wasn’t a massive year for new car releases. There was an updated Audi RS6 Performance model, the Frankenstein-esque Ineos Grenadier landed in Australia and the mighty Kia EV6 GT dropped too, but there was one that stole our hearts.
After years of umm-ing and ahh-ing, BMW finally pulled the trigger and decided to build the M3 Touring, otherwise known as the M3 wagon. When it finally landed in Australia we had a chance to get behind the wheel, and it did not disappoint. BMW has done an incredible job and making one of the best high-performance wagons on the road. Inside and out, it’s a class act.
Priced at around A$200,000, it’s certainly not cheap, creeping toward Audi RS6 territory. However, we would argue the interior and technology are far superior, as are the endless selection of paint colours available. For now, it only comes in the Competition edition, which is fine by us.
Discover the M3 Touring for yourself.
Best Electric Vehicle
The lines between luxury and lifestyle are fast being blurred thanks to the electric vehicle revolution. Once upon a time, we would have turned our noses up at the thought of driving a Kia. Today we’re saying the EV6 GT was, without a doubt, the best EV we tested in 2023.
Priced under $100,000 and with a 0-100km/h time of just 3.5 seconds, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT could be the performance bargain EV of the year.
The car’s packed with driving safety features and enough space for bicycles or surfboards. It almost feels like a wagon rather than a small SUV. The microfibre bucket seats are an absolute pleasure to drive in. When you consider what else is within this price bracket, then you’ll be hard-pressed to go past the EV6 GT.
Best New Watch
After flying 15,000km to the world’s biggest watch fair, we left a little disappointed that there was no “standout” release from the show. Many brands had increased prices without any distinguishable reason, so when it came time to find our favourite watch of 2023, we decided to look local…
We were aware of a very limited edition Chopard Alpine Eagle in the works here in Sydney which sounded pretty amazing. Then, a few weeks ago, Chopard boss Caroline Marie Scheufele visited Australia to launch the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt. A watch that celebrates Australia’s first nations through art and Chopard’s timeless precision.
Chopard teamed up with local Indigenous artist Shaun Daniel Allen (Shal), and a portion of the profits from this collaboration will support the programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation in Australia.
The watch features a bold red dial and Shaun’s artwork on the caseback as well as the hand-painted watch box. Could this be the best Australian limited edition watch, ever? Quite possibly.
It’s only limited to 20 pieces, so you had better hurry.
Best Men’s T-Shirt
As guys, we inevitably have at least one white tee on rotation. For something so simple, so plain, the white tee is a crucial part of the summer wardrobe on these warmer days; a versatile go-to that can pair with pretty much everything. But as we discovered, not all white tees are created equal…
Made using a combination of Lyocell — a fibre derived from certified renewable wood sources — and Pima cotton that pair together to form a premium silk-like softness for added comfort, breathability, texture and structure, the Midweight T-Shirt from CDLP is this year’s Best T-Shirt.
Its higher cotton count gives this tee its unmatched premium look and feel; it’s thicker and more durable but unbelievably soft, leaving you feeling confident next time you grab that essential summer fit.
Most Innovative Watch Release
What if you combined used coffee pods and luxury watches? The result would be this innovative drop from Hublot.
Watchmakers are undergoing an inevitable shift towards sustainability, with Chopard, Panerai and Ulysse Nardin at the forefront of this movement. But in 2023, Hublot went big by partnering with coffee maker Nespresso to create the Big Bang Unico Nespresso Origin, a watch made (in part) from coffee capsules — a material typically deemed highly disposable and terrible for the planet.
The Big Bang’s case, pushers, and crown are made from recycled aluminium, with 28% of used Nespresso capsules, while the case bottom and container are made from recycled titanium. The stunning green strap is equally eco-conscious, featuring materials like 4.1% coffee grounds and 8.2% recycled white rubber.
It’s not hard to see why we’ve selected the Big Bang Unico Nespresso Origin as the most innovative (and marketable) watch of 2023.
Best Men’s Hair Product
2023 was a big year for DMARGE testing and trialling grooming products and our office was awash with potions and poisons. Yet, when it came to selecting a men’s hair product the decision quickly came down to two products: Patricks and Fortero.
Three of the four DMARGE editorial staff used Patricks Plus Shampoo and Conditioner due to their various stages of male pattern baldness and all of them rave about its DHT-blocking and thickening ingredients which are delivered in one punch to ensure you keep what you have left on your head.
If you’re looking to smell good too, the cologne Neroli has you covered. Only this week, Patrick’s scored investment from Shiseido, one of the world’s largest skincare companies. It seems things are on the up and up for this brand from Bondi Beach.
Best Men’s Skin Product
Whether you’re already feeling the years or want to fight them off before they come crashing down, then the Clinique Smart Wrinkle Repair is for you. We scored a pot of this whilst testing a range of men’s anti-aging moisturisers and were pleasantly surprised by its quality and effectiveness. In fact, we were so impressed we asked for another and another.
Clinique Smart Clinical Repair contains peptides, hyaluronic acid and retinol which are proven ingredients to help remove fine lines and signs of aging. What’s even better is this cream is fragrance-free. All around, it’s good stuff.
It comes in a face cream, eye cream, serum and neck-lifting option, so no matter your level of ugly, there’s a product for you.
Best New Cologne
If you’ve been to any events with any of the DMARGE team this year, you’ll have undoubtedly been met by the crisp and floral bouquet of Acqua di Parma’s 2023 release… it’s that good.
Named after one of the world’s rarest and most expensive ingredients, more commonly known as saffron, Acqua di Parma Zafferano is quality through and through and the deserving winner of Best New Cologne.
On the nose, it’s light, fresh and floral; citrus notes are instantly released in signature Acqua di Parma style, but these clean aromas are then blended with orange blossom and violet owing to this particular expression’s most opulent ingredient.
The 2023 release is a reflection of the Italian brand’s unwavering commitment to excellence, and if saffron is the red gold of Iran, the Acqua di Parma’s 2023 release is its liquid gold cousin.
Emanating from some of the finest distilleries in Scotland, Japan, Australia and the U.S., we’ve been fortunate enough to sample some of the best whisky released this year. From The Macallan Reflexion and M Single Malt to Hibiki’s 21-Year-Old and Morris’ Sherry Cask expression, each particular dram can boast a discerning legacy deeply rooted within the celebrated world of premium whisky; although there has been one particular expression I’ve been unable to move on from.
For more than 100 years, The Dalmore distillery has enjoyed an exclusive relationship with one of the finest sherry bodegas in all of Spain, hand-selecting casks of the finest quality to age its whisky to produce indelible drops that have defined their renowned reputation.
The Dalmore The 43-Year-Old Apostles Finish is one such expression; aged in American white oak and finished in 30-year-old Apostoles Sherry Cask, this is an ultra-rare whisky curated by The Dalmore’s Master Distillers Richard Paterson OBE and Gregg Glass for The Dalmore’s Limited Edition Cask Curation series.
The 43-Year-Old Apostoles Finish dazzles and excites the palate with sweet vanilla and rich dark chocolate, before giving way to burnt pineapple and a cinnamon finish that lingers for some time after.
We’ve all had those days where a beer just doesn’t quite cut it. Rare, I know, but sometimes we need that extra bit of summer flair to treat these warmer days, and our latest pick will give some of the legacy beers a run for their money.
Crisper than a Corona, Balter’s latest beer to hit the bottlo and bars is the aptly named Cerveza, which roughly translates in Spanish to Great Australian-Made Mexican Lager Beer… roughly. We’re tired of bloody Corona so it makes sense to be thrilled about this newcomer.
The perfect brew for the summer months, Balter Cerveza is light and refreshing and easily our Best Beer of the year.
Best Zero Alcohol Beer
Created by Western Australian brewery Little Creatures, Flying Low was the clear winner of our non-alcoholic beer review, with all the boys scoring it highly and Luc going so far as to call it his standout favourite.
The consensus was that it’s got a complex yet approachable flavour profile that really tastes like a real full-strength beer but that’s also quite ‘sessionable’ (i.e. it could be drunk quickly and at high volume should you so desire, though we don’t recommend this… obviously).
It also boasts a very contemporary design that makes it stand out next to slews of green and brown bottles, which we liked. While Little Creatures Flying Low was also the most expensive non-alcoholic beer we reviewed by some distance, costing more than the average six-pack of ‘normal’ beer, you definitely get what you pay for.
Best Health Supplement
If you’re a podcast tragic you will have likely heard of Athletic Greens, now known as AG1. Curious about AG1’s claims, we succumbed to relentless peer pressure and decided to give super supplement AG1 a try for ourselves.
AG1’s goal is to simplify what they describe as ‘optimal health’. This encompasses gut well-being, immune support, recovery, and sustained energy levels. In short, it’s a nutritionally dense blend of 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-derived nutrients that is conveniently packed into a daily scoop and easily mixed with water.
What sets AG1 apart is how easily it’s worked into your daily routine, akin to a morning coffee. We started using it some 6 months ago, and can honestly say we’re loving it.
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