Melbourne is known as the shopping capital of Australia, which means it’s home to many independent boutiques; focusing on books, souvenirs, jewellery and clothing. Here are the 10 best independent stores to visit in Melbourne.
Third Drawer Down is a design studio, wholesaler and store. Its flagship shop in Fitzroy acts as their interpretation of a traditional museum or gallery store. Stocking products from Melbourne, Australia and worldwide, the team at Third Drawer Down are dedicated to finding unique objects. This includes homewares, limited-edition tea towels, accessories, books and novelty products. Since 2003, Third Drawer Down has collaborated with more than 200 international artists. Stop by to find a gift for the person who has it all.
For the perfect Melbourne souvenir, you must visit Melbournalia. The independent store opened in 2013 and stocks a range of products from the best Melbourne designers. Most goods are made in the city as well. The range at Melbournalia includes prints, books, maps, apparel, fashion accessories and homewares. You could take home unique souvenirs like boomerang earrings, a tram pendant and Melbourne suburb cufflinks.
Perfect Splash is an independent boutique owned by sisters, Annabelle and Alana. The duo specialise in locally made products, such as clothing, ceramics, jewellery, candles, publications, and local band tapes and records. A lot of the clothing pieces stocked at Perfect Splash are made in very small runs as well. The sisters also prefer clothing made from natural fibres and upcycled materials, like pieces from their own clothing line, Paradise Structures.
Embiggen Books was established on the Sunshine Coast in 2008, but moved next door to the State Library in Melbourne three years later. The independent bookshop focuses primarily on popular science and philosophy books. Although this is the ‘backbone’, Embiggen does indeed stock books on a wide variety of topics. It has hosted speeches from Nobel Prize winners and award-winning international authors. Embiggen Books is also home to a small café, which serves a specialty blend of coffee from local roastery, Coffee Basics.
Since opening in 2002, RetroStar has grown to become Australia’s largest vintage store. Located in the historic Nicholas Building in central Melbourne, RetroStar is a treasure trove of vintage clothing, accessories and memorabilia from the 1940s to 1990s. It’s said to stock over 10,000 retro pieces, which are sourced from around the world. Locals and visitors should keep an eye out for the annual warehouse sales, where every vintage piece is AU$10 (£5.70) or under.
Praised as a standout by the New York Times,Lucy Folk is a bold Australian lifestyle brand with a flagship store in Melbourne. Step inside the pale blue door to find unique jewellery, Italian handmade eyewear, accessories and resort wear that “create a subtle sense of luxury with timeless wearability”. Beyoncé and Jessica Biel are just two celebrities who’ve been spotted in Lucy Folk. Some of the creative Lucy Folk designs include taco friendship bands, Twizzler-inspired necklaces and bracelets, and Greek god earrings.
The Paperback Bookshop first opened on Bourke Street in the 1960s. It stocks a variety of titles from Australia and around the world, which include fiction, travel, non-fiction, music, philosophy and current affairs books. It also has cards, wrapping paper and journals in store, such as the New York Review of Booksand The Monthly.The Paperback Bookshop is open late and is next door to Pellegrini’s, which is known for its coffee and pasta.
Madam Virtue & Co is an independent shop with a difference. The luxury consignment store specialises in buying and selling pre-loved designer clothing and accessories. Some of the pieces available at Madam Virtue & Co include Louis Vuitton handbags, Christian Dior necklaces, and Chanel and Prada clothing. If you love high-end vintage, head to Madam Virtue & Co.
Design A Space was established in 2006, as a retail space where independent Australian designers could showcase their wares in an artistic shopping environment. Design A Space supports over 100 designers, which rotate monthly and focus on men, women and children’s clothing and accessories. Many designers choose to display limited edition pieces not available anywhere else either. Design A Space is committed to providing Melbourne locals with the best offerings in Australian independent fashion at its three locations.
Vintage Sole has been selling premium retro wares to locals for over 10 years. It has three locations in Melbourne’s three main independent shopping suburbs: the CBD, Fitzroy and Windsor. It has an extensive collection of seasonally-appropriate fashion, footwear and accessories from the 1950s to 1990s. So if you’re looking for cowboy boots, flares from the 1970s or the perfect 1960s vintage dress, visit Vintage Sole.