All Articles Everything you need to know about shopping in Melbourne

Everything you need to know about shopping in Melbourne

From designer fashion to coffee beans and Aboriginal-crafted boomerangs.

Claire Gallam
By Claire Gallam4 Apr 2024 4 minutes read
Melbourne, Australia, in early morning light. Yarra River, towards Flinders Street Station.
Melbourne over the Yarra River
Image: robynmac/Getty Images

Recognized as the culture capital of Australia, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the rich creativity and dynamic pulse of Melbourne than through its shops. From the chic boutiques of Fitzroy to the historic arcades of the city center, Melbourne's shopping scene weaves a rich tapestry of diversity, echoing the city's multicultural roots and eclectic energy. As a frequent visitor to this city over the past decade, I know better than to travel without a spare suitcase to fill up.

For iconic local fashion brands

Shoppers walk in a blur outside Emporium Melbourne
Emporium
Image: Tripadvisor/Management

There are so many incredible brands local to Melbourne and although this list is certainly not comprehensive, it covers a few brands that give you a taste of the city's dedication to preserving and celebrating Aboriginal culture and highlight its passion for art and creativity.

  • Clothing the Gaps: Celebrating Aboriginal culture and activism, this shop sells contemporary apparel with powerful messages to educate the public on the rich history of the Aboriginal people. You can shop at the flagship store in Brunswick, or stop by the many pop-up stalls in Federation Square and Queen Victoria Market.
  • Kinya Lerrk: This woman- and Aboriginal-owned boutique in the Preston neighborhood (about six miles from the city center) sells everything from books and puzzles to candles and bush food. You’d be remiss not to take home the plum white chocolate, their handmade jewelry, or one of the breathtaking scarves.
  • Alpha60: Embracing minimalist sophistication with a quirky twist, this shop brings an experimental approach to contemporary fashion. Get your hands on their 2024 Melbourne Art Fair collab purses, which feature designs by local artists. Head to the flagship on Flinders Lane in Melbourne's CBD, which is known for its eclectic mix of boutiques, galleries, and cafes.
  • Emporium: Touted as one of the city's premier shopping destinations, Emporium in the CBD houses a curated selection of local and international brands, offering a diverse range of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle experiences under one roof. Shop the Australian designers first, like Aje, Bec + Bridge, Dion Lee, and Zimmermann.

Indie boutiques

Clothes for sale at South Melbourne Market
Clothes for sale at South Melbourne Market
Image: Tripadvisor/Management

There's no better way to soak in Melbourne’s eclectic culture than by ducking into the city’s art galleries and shopping the local artisans. All owned locally, these boutiques give you an authentic taste of what makes Melbourne so cool.

  • Outre Gallery: Nestled in the artistic hub of Fitzroy, this gallery showcases a diverse collection of contemporary pop culture and underground art, with rotating exhibitions featuring work by famed artists like Tasmanian-born Nicole Haven and award-winning mixed media artist Ashley Wood. Even if you’re not shopping for a piece of art, it’s worth a visit to get lost in an exhibition.
  • Vault: This shop is a treasure trove of vintage and pre-owned fashions, accessories, and homewares in Melbourne's Block Arcade. You’ll find everything from Yves Saint Laurent to Australian designers like Le Louvre. All proceeds go towards supporting the National Trust, which curates the shop.
  • Lily and the Weasel: At home in the effortlessly cool neighborhood of Brunswick, this charming boutique has an eclectic collection of homewares, baby gifts, jewelry, and more. Plus, everything is made by local designers, so you can guarantee what you buy is local to Australia.
  • South Melbourne Market: Established in 1867, the market is a bustling cultural hub popular for locals and tourists. Sample croissants at Agathe Patisserie, shop for beautiful flowers at Azalea Flowers, sip espresso at Burhan's Espresso, or check out unique pop-ups like CDK Australia, which promotes local Bhutanese weavers.

For the best souvenirs

People sit on a covered patio at Industry Beans
Industry Beans
Image: Tripadvisor/Management

I may be biased, but Melbourne is one of my favorite shopping cities in Australia. Every time I'm there, I find myself having to pack an extra suitcase just to fit all the one-of-a-kind goodies I find. Even though not everything you see is a worthy souvenir, you can't leave the city without some things.

  • Yarra Valley wine: Located just over an hour from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is known as the "Sonoma of Australia.” Even if you can’t fit a visit into your itinerary, you'd be remiss not to stock up on a few Yarra Valley bottles to take home. Stop into The Melbourne Wine Store on St. Kilda Street to shop local varietals like pinot noir, chardonnay, and shiraz.
  • Coffee: Melbourne has quickly become one of the country's most impressive purveyors of java. With dozens of local roasters scattered across the city, it can be hard to decide which bag of beans is worth space in your suitcase. St. Ali in South Melbourne, Wide Open Road in Brunswick, Industry Beans in Fitzroy, Axil Coffee Roasters, with locations across Melbourne, are all great places to start. (Bonus: they all provide in-depth coffee sampling experiences—a.k.a. cupping—to further educate you on the best ways to savor their beans.)
  • Boomerangs: Beyond its iconic shape and intricate designs, the boomerang embodies Australia's Indigenous peoples' rich traditions and history, serving as a symbol of connection to the land and the ancient wisdom passed down through generations. Avoid the tourist traps that sell them and head to the Koorie Heritage Trust, where you'll find a curated selection of handcrafted boomerangs made by Indigenous artists.

Exploring the one-stop-shop Royal Arcade

Built in 1869 by famed architect Charles Webb, the Royal Arcade is easily one of the most beautiful buildings in Melbourne. The wrought-iron arches on the ceiling, intricate wall carvings, and hand-painted stained glass are a draw all their own, but there are more than 20 stores here, including culinary faves like Koko Black Chocolate (the truffles and chocolate bars make for divine souvenirs) and Agathe Patisserie. Plus, there are nail salons, jewelry shops, and the Paint N Powder French perfumery to visit. You can find the arcade in Melbourne's business district, connecting Bourke Street Mall and Little Collins Street.

Claire Gallam
Claire is a seasoned writer and photographer with a passion for food, beauty, and travel. Having spent time in more than 70 countries and hundreds of cities, she's happiest with a passport in hand and a ticket to someplace new. When she's not traveling, she's spending time with her energetic 5-year-old, testing new beauty and skincare products, photographing new recipes for her blog, The Realistic Nutritionist, writing, and exploring her new-to-her hometown of Chicago. Keep up with her adventures on the road or at home by following her on social media.