Melbourne is famous for it’s shopping experiences. So where to go? Here’s the answers.
THE FIVE MUST-DO MELBOURNE SHOPPING EXPERIENCES
1. City arcades & laneways. The grandest is the Block Arcade, between Collins and Elizabeth Sts. The Royal Arcade, linking the Bourke St Mall and Little Collins St, dates from 1869, making it the oldest surviving arcade in Australia. Flinders Lane, heart of the old rag trade, and the network of alleys and laneways running off it now house up-and-coming designers and eclectic collections. Don’t miss Degraves St, with its cool cafes and bars. You can get there via Collins St and the Centreway Arcade – with the retro-cool Shag at No.20. Little Collins is another Style Street, featuring bloke boutiques like AG, Calibre, Chiodo and the macho swagger of Roy. Ikasu Man buffs and beautifies the proud metrosexual. If the alleys and laneways make you feel claustrophic, finish with a walk along the “Paris end” of Collins St.
2. Bridge Rd, Richmond. The mecca of factory outlets, samples and seconds. To the pleasant surprise of visitors, it’s all within a stone’s throw from the CBD on an old Victorian streetscape, rather than a soulless barn in the outer suburbs. The fashion strip – including labels Charlie Brown, Witchery, Feathers, Country Road, Esprit, Nine West, Ojay, et al – is mostly between Punt Rd and Church St. Some find Bridge Rd – or rather the pack-hunting young women who stalk it – scary. But it isn’t all knock-offs and bargain basement; shoe fetishists can get their fix from the imported lines at Alberto Piazza and Claudia. Bridge Rd is especially good for out-of-season items – like an outfit for a Fiji wedding in the middle of July, or a coat for a Christmas trip to Europe.
3. Chapel St. A haunt of the young and fabulous, this is Melbourne’s answer to LA’s Melrose Ave. It goes from glitzy at the northern, Toorak Rd end – with Collette Dinnigan, Alannah Hill and Scanlon & Theodore among the boutiques – to grungy at the southern, St Kilda end. Statement gowns, rock-star cool, lingerie, arty jewellery and the top men’s labels are among the sought-after items. A must-do side trip is Greville St, with fun and funky stores like Lost Vegas – proof that Melbourne can laugh at its fashion obsession.
4. Chadstone. Yes, it’s a massive mall (frequently swapping places with Highpoint as the largest indoor shopping centre in the southern hemisphere). But Chadstone is also “the fashion capital” and so very Melbourne, with the designer stores – Lisa Ho, Alannah Hill, Perri Cutten, Anthea Crawford, Peter Alexander (if you can call PJs designer ware), Morrissey, Veronica Maine, Trent Nathan, Carla Zampatti etc – conveniently clustered on one floor. Kids’ wear is just as trendy. The big names are all here but you can also find small jewellery designers. And the eating options are a cut above your standard food court. You’ll need a car and sunnies for the star wattage – Nicolas Cage among the recent celeb sightings.
5. Brunswick St, Fitzroy. Shops are in the minority, wedged between gastro-pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars, but Brunswick St is still the bohemian heart of Melbourne. No brand names and multinational franchises here, but plenty of edgy and ethnic fashion, retro homewares and haircuts, galleries and totally weird shit. In fact, Totally Weird Shit (aka PolyEster) is at No.330. Their mission: “To provide the freakiest underground books, magazines, films and comix.” Nuff said.