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A Fashion Lover's Guide to Melbourne
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A Fashion Lover's Guide to Melbourne

Picture of Monique La Terra
Updated: 20 December 2017
Fearless and effortlessly sophisticated, Melbournians are well versed in mixing vintage fashion, local brands, and high-end labels. From impressive retail precincts to vintage stores and boutiques to local designers, festivals, and fashion exhibitions, this is out comprehensive fashion guide to Melbourne.

Shopping

No Melbourne fashion guide would be complete without mentioning Chadstone. The fashion capital is the largest shopping centre in Australia, boasting over 500 stores including luxury boutique such as Burberry, Chanel, and Prada as well as department stores Myer and David Jones.

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Courtesy Chadstone

Located in the heart of the city, the bustling Bourke Street Mall is one of Melbourne’s premier shopping destinations. Linking Swanston and Elizabeth streets, this retail hub is accessible only to pedestrians and trams. Myer dominates, occupying almost 40,000sqm across nine floors, while David Jones occupies two buildings. Other stores include Zara, H&M, Swarovski and many more.

Linked to Melbourne Central, Myer and David Jones, The Emporium is easily accessible and features over 200 fashion, beauty and lifestyle stores, including Camilla and Marc, Armani Exchange, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, LIFEwithBIRD, Ted Baker, and Zimmerman.

Extending from South Yarra to Prahran, through to St Kilda East and St Kilda, Chapel Street has long been one of Melbourne’s most popular retail destinations. Divided into distinct neighbourhoods, Chapel Street features designer and affordable boutiques and vintage stores. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants along the way.

Boutiques

Melbournians are privy to a wide range of fashion boutiques peddling everything from the innovative and unusual to high-end labels. Some of the best include:

Incu – Founded by Brian and Vincent Wu, Incu is the store to visit when looking for trend-neutral wardrobe staples from brands including A.P.C., Rag & Bone, Weathered, and Vanishing Elephant.

Marais – Stocking high-end labels such as Celine, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Balmain, Victor & Rolf, Chloe, and Lanvin, fashion boutique Marais holds an elite collection for men and women in two dedicated stores in Bourke Street and Royal Arcade.

Somedays – Championing established and emerging designers from Australia and abroad, Somedays is a Nordic inspired boutique that stocks wearable brands, including Dr Denim, Kowtow, and Our Legacy.

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Courtesy of Somedays

Labels

Many of Australia’s most talented designers call Melbourne home. While there are too many to list, below are just some of the labels on the forefront of Australian fashion

Alpha 60 – Launched in 2005 in conjunction with the Vivienne Westwood Retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria, Alpha 60 was conceptualized by sisters Alex and Georgie Cleary, who created a label that merges innovative design with a timeless sensibility.

LIFEwithBIRD – Melbourne-based label LIFEwithBIRD was founded in 2002 by Nicholas Van Messner (life) and Bridget Mcall (bird). The label is renowned for its contemporary aesthetic, bold prints, and crisp silhouettes.

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Courtesy of LIFEwithBIRD

FME – From humble beginnings at the Camberwell Market, designer Maddy Meave launched independent label FME in 2013 with the aim of creating elegant and ethical comfort wear.

Scanlan Theodore – Since 1987, Scanlan Theodore has maintained a classically feminine yet modern aesthetic through simple lines, well-crafted prints, and timeless design.

Nicholas – Catering to the confident woman, Nicholas redefines classic silhouettes with bold prints and a sharp eye for detail. In 2015 the label launched a youthful sister line, n / Nicholas.

Matičevski – Renowned for his manipulation of classic silhouettes, designer Toni Matičevski established the eponymous label in 1999. In 2016, Bendigo Art Gallery held a major exhibition showcasing the evolution of Matičevski.

Vintage

Treasure hunters will relish the abundance of vintage stores scattered throughout Melbourne. Rummage through Vintage Garage, Shag, Eurotrash and Vintage Sole. Melbourne is also home RetroStar Vintage, which has a collection exceeding 10,000 vintage pieces, and often holds warehouse sales.

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Courtesy RetroStar Vintage Clothing

Festivals

Every year Melbourne hosts two fashion festivals. The first of the year is The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival in March. VAMFF is Australia’s largest consumer fashion event and includes runway shows showcasing established and emerging designers. There are also beauty workshops, industry seminars, live entertainment, and more. The second festival is Melbourne Fashion Week. Formerly known as Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, it includes runway shows, exhibitions, film screenings, pop-up shops, industry events, and more.

Exhibitions

Regarded as the cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne is regularly chosen to host exclusive international fashion exhibitions. Some of the very best of the last few years include The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists, 200 Years of Australian Fashion, Henry Talbot 1960s Fashion Photographer, and The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

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Models posing in new Christian Dior collection. (Photo by Loomis Dean/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images) | Courtesy of NGV