Melbourne is Australia’s undisputable fashion capital. It’s like a citizenship right for all Victorians to be able to express their creativity and style through a carefully-crafted outfit, whether it’s dripping in designer, full leather, a mustard yellow cardigan or Glad bags donned as a cape.
This naturally means the options to purchase the latest in fashion are at their purse-draining best in Melbourne.
Before holding my Melbourne passport, I would conduct minimum four annual shopping trips, crossing the border to source myself some of the latest wears. Driving home like a big fat cat full of Snappy Tom, with a boot exploding from paper tissue-packed bags. I LOVED my Melbourne shopping trips and now that I’m a full blood Melburnian I conduct a minimum of 52 annual shopping trips, so consider myself quite the expert at flinging out the AMEX.
From vintage to sale to off the runway fashions, I’ve ranked the best places to go shopping in Melbourne:
1. Chadstone Shopping Centre
Located 30 minutes from Melbourne in the (no surprises) suburb of Chadstone, this super shopping centre is like a family meal deal – there’s something for everyone – and it’s my favourite place to go shopping in Melbourne.
The retail therapy here is wide and varied; from your big name designer stores (i.e. Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton) and your staple department stores (Myer, David Jones, Target and Kmart) to your smaller speciality stores (Aesop, Country Road, Seed) and technology monoliths (Apple, JB HI-FI, etc).
And it’s the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. Boom. Mic dropped.
If you don’t have the luxury of a car, you can catch the free shuttle from Federation Square (and back), which has multiple daily departures; or the train from Flinders Street Station, taking the Cranbourne or Pakenham lines and getting off at Hughesdale Station (then a 16-minute walk), or the Glen Waverley line and getting off at Holmesglen Station (28-minute walk).
2. Melbourne Emporium
The baby of the Melbourne shopping family, this two-year old centre, that’s bounded by Lonsdale and Little Bourke streets, has bags full of sass and style, housing only the most impressive of international brands and a few local ones to round out the pack. I’m talking Manning Cartell, Calibre and Willow, to name a few.
Plus, Melbourne Emporium has my most favourite of food courts. Now generally I avoid food courts like I would a preaching Pauline Hanson but this is no generic brand of food court. Replace your deep fried fries and soggy burgers with Greek street food from Jimmy Grants; a high protein, low carb wholefoods salad bowl from Thrive; or a gourmet wagyu burger with parmesan and truffle oil fries from Charlie & Co Burgers.
3. Bourke Street Mall
You can’t visit Melbourne without going for a shopping burn up Bourke Street Mall. It’s a rite of passage. Headline acts here are H&M, Zara, Myer and David Jones.
4. Chapel Street
Just south of the city there are two kilometres worth of shopping activity to be had. Wander up (or down) Chapel Street (between Dandenong and Toorak roads) and you’ll uncover your familiar face big brands (Top Shop, Nine West and MIMCO), as well as some local designers sprinkled on top (particularly if you detour down Greville Street). The closer you get to Toorak Road, the more shops you’ll find but, be warned, the toffier it gets.
If you want some nearby food and/or wine inspiration (which is better on the Dandenong Road-end of Chapel Street), you MUST read these posts:
- A bar crawl down the Windsor-end of Chapel Street
- 15 of the best things to do in Windsor
- 15 of the best things to do in Prahran
5. Melbourne Central
“There’s no such thing as too many shopping centres in a one-kilometre CBD radius”, said Melbourne City Council, clearly. A stone’s throw from Melbourne Emporium and Bourke Street Mall, you have Melbourne Central, which stretches from Lonsdale to La Trobe streets depth-wise, Swanston to Elizabeth streets width-wise and up five floors height-wise. It’s home to 300 speciality shops (including Sephora, SABA and a Hoyts) and has its own train station (creatively-named Melbourne Central Station).
Look up and you’ll see the iconic and historic Shot Tower that this impressive shopping destination has been built around.
6. DFO South Wharf
Retail outlet shopping can be like fishing for the Loch Ness Monster in Port Phillip Bay. However, I find it pretty easy to find a bargain at DFO South Wharf, without having to get neck-deep in racks of sale clothes. On the non-city side of the Yarra River, this underground bunker (which has questionable phone reception) serves up 100 different stores to attempt the sport of bargain fishing at.
7. Collins Street
If you’re prepared to spend squillions, head straight for the ultra fancy Collins Street, in the city, where you’ll find flagship designer stores taking up residency in heritage buildings. Think Chanel, Giorgio Armani and Louis Vuitton.
8. Brunswick and Smith streets, Fitzroy
All Fitzroyians* enjoy knitting, wearing brightly-coloured jumpers from Vinnies and living in a converted warehouse. Consequently you’ll find the best vintage and eclectic shopping on Brunswick and Smith streets than anywhere else in the land.
* This is a blatant stereotype. Forgive me Fitzroyians.
Other places that are worthy of a look but not a paragraph of words are:
- Spencer Outlet Centre – for bargains, and conveniently right next door to Spencer Street Station.
- Bridge Road, Richmond – for more bargains, although is increasingly becoming desolate and deserted.
- Crown Casino Complex – if you want a break from the roulette table, you can also burn some money with a shopping flutter.
- Harbour Town Shopping Centre in Docklands – another outlet centre and only recommended if you’re in the area – don’t make the mistake of making a special trip here.
- Westfield Doncaster, Westfield Southland or Eastland Shopping Centre – perfect for your ‘everything under one roof’ efficiency shoppers but being 34, 33 and 40 minutes from the city respectively, they’re not particularly easy to get to, unless you have the loan of an automobile.
- All the city laneways – for hidden, unique finds.
- High Street, Armadale – particularly if you’re planning on getting married soon as there’s a greater concentration of bridal stores along this strip of bitumen that any other postcode in the 3000s.
The great thing about Melbourne is that you can discover great shopping options around every corner, in every suburb, under every rock. You just have to go looking.