Collins Street, in the heart of Melbourne, may play host to Chanel and Gucci, but ask Melbournians for their favored designer gear and you'll hear instead local stars like Toni Maticevski, Yeojin Bae, and Martin Grant. Due to being slightly cooler--climate wise and maybe otherwise--than the rest of the country, Melbournians are happy to layer high-end wares with thrift-store scarves, boots, leather jackets, and denim from the likes of Shag, Savers, and Curve. Read on for more Melbourne discoveries...
The first of two Alice Euphemia boutiques opened 11 years ago and was created by Caroline Price and Karen Rieschieck (now the sole owner) as a place fashion-school graduates could stock their wares. By encouraging and celebrating new designers, Alice Euphemia quickly gained notoriety as a local mecca for cutting-edge cuts, quirky designs, and original fashion and is responsible for launching some of the country's most successful designers. A decade after opening its Flinders Lane boutique, the 2nd Alice Euphemia store arrived in Gertrude St, Fitzroy to the North of the city. Still priding itself on housing the freshest young talent, the shop stocks a mishmash of Australian designers including Kate Hurst, Claude Maus, TV, and This Charming Man.
Not for the fainthearted--or the unfit--Order&Progress is a boutique hidden away from the street on the 3rd level of historic Swanston Street bar hub--Curtain House. Owners Katrina Tran and Catherine Martin provide a selection of stunning Brazilian fashion, Australian designer wares, and the occasional European's creative work. Colorful and boasting spectacular views of the City, Order&Progress is still somewhat of a hidden gem drawing regulars mainly through word of mouth. Since its opening in 2005, the shop has played host to a mix of edgy labels, including Therese Rawsthorne, Jack Gomme, and Katharine Hamnett.
Named after the Quarter in Paris, this hard-to-find, easy-to-fall-in-love-with boutique has become a cult source for fashion-forward Melbournians. Here, you'll always find key investment pieces from Balenciaga, Preen, Vera Wang, and Lanvin as well as local designers like FRISONIFINETTI and Dhini.
If Melbourne's attitude toward fashion could be defined by one label, it would be Alpha60. The brainchild of siblings Alex and Georgie Cleary, Alpha60 has been at the forefront of understated cool since its inception in 2002. With two stores (Flinders Lane and City and Brunswick Street, Fitzroy) Alpha60 stocks the whole range from its own brand as well as low-cost Swedish denim label, Cheap Monday. Sticking to a minimal color palette, Alpha60 garments are clean and sharp--a look that's pretty much become its trademark.
• James Cameron, 18 Oliver Lane, Melbourne, +61 (3) 9662 2506
Born, bred, and educated in Melbourne, this award-winning menswear designer has long been a celebrated creative force on the local scene. From the moment you enter the newly opened James Cameron boutique, his attention to detail is evident--from choice buttons to the thickness of stitch to the curve of a seam. Mirroring Melbourne's addiction to sharp-suited styling, Cameron's work is effortless and well worth the trip.
Like all great things in the rainy southern City, The Order of Melbourne can be difficult to locate. Positioned above bustling Swanston Street and accessed only by two steep flights of stairs, The Order could easily be missed by the uninitiated...and that's probably the point. For those in the know, it has become a worthwhile destination on the bar scene with a rooftop terrace, Sunday night Burlesque shows, and the best selection of classic drinks you're likely to find in Australia.
• The Toff in Town, 2ND Floor, Curtin House,
252 Swanston Street, Melbourne +61 (3) 9639 8770
Opened in 2007 and located in the creative area Curtain House, The Toff in Town has already become a destination due to its Phillip Schemenitz design, quality menu, and eclectic band room, which has previously housed everyone from Damo Suzuki to Liam Finn. Away from the band room, punters can indulge in Bloody Mary oyster shots with chipolata in the privacy of an old school, refurbished train carriage.
As a melting pot of cultures (over 150 languages are spoken in Melbourne) the City is home to a huge variety of cuisines with Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Italian, and Greek featuring heavily. For possibly the finest Thai cooking, take your credit card (it's not cheap) into Longrain for spectacular Salt & Pepper squid and incredible cocktails to go with it. Housed in a century-old converted warehouse, Longrain has become a restaurant deserving of its reputation. Dress up. [Photo credit: Jeremy Simmons]
Luckily Melbourne's abundance of quality food is also available at a lesser price tag with whole streets, such as Victoria Street, Richmond (Vietnamese) and Lygon Street, Carlton (Italian)--devoted to cheap, quality eats. Movida, located down Hosier Lane, is a Melbourne institution serving world-renowned Tapas and top cocktails. Don't even think about walking in off the street--booking is essential for this eternally packed Tapas bar where a good meal will set you back just $30.