We're quite chuffed with this Melbourne Manly Shopping Guide! It's given us an entirely new topic to research and explore, and has pushed us a bit out of our usual comfort zone - which is a wonderful thing that I highly recommend doing occasionally :) It's also been a truly collaborative effort - we've picked the brains of all the stylish Melbourne men we know, and the content below is co-written by Miriam McGarry and me. Big thanks to Sean Fennessy, who took some (but not all) of the shots, and to Jenny Butler, who chased down additional photography with the utmost efficiency, and to Tess McCabe for the fantastic illustrated manly map! A huge thanks also to the select group of fashionable fellas who kindly shared their shopping secrets to help compile this shortlist - especially my dear friend Gavin Youngs, whose knowlege of men's fashion retail is positively dangerous.
We hope you enjoy this round-up! Please think of it as 'edited' rather than 'exhaustive'. If there is a single 'you forgot my favourite obscure Russian alterations shop' comment, I will be somewhat exasperated. :)
Please forward on to any Melbourne men you know who could do with a little retail guidance...!
OK so you've heard all about these guys already this week, but for the sake of future readers, we're including the dashing Captains of Industry again today in our Melbourne Manly Shopping guide.
Hiding down a laneway and up a flight of stairs, Captains is home to a tailor, barber shop, shoemaker and café. Bookings for the barber can be made online through the website, where there is also information about the Made to Measure Tailoring Service (Statler & Waldorf) and bespoke footwear (Roberts & Hassett). Stop at the café for a coffee or a jar of homemade jam, and admire the stairs, decorated with tailors patterns and cabinets of wooden shoemaking lasts. A visit to Captains of Industry takes you back to an when gentlemen were perfectly groomed and dressed to impress!
Captains of Industry Level 1, 2 Somerset Place Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9670 4405
This Stockholm based brand is housed in the Ground Floor of the GPO, and stocks a perfectly understated range of T-shirts, jeans, knits and neutral basics for guys and girls. EVERYTHING here is just outrageously, effortlessly cool. I mean, just LOOK at the current men's footwear collection.Acne G02 Melbourne GPO 350 Bourke Street Melbourne, VIC 3000 Australia (03) 9650 0201
If you can make it past Cookie and the Toff, Level four of Curtin House is home to one of Melbourne’s greatest bookshops. Though not exclusively 'manly', Metropolis is perfect for last minute father / brother / boyfriend gift shopping - and has the best selection of giftcards to finish off the job. The day we visited, there was much excitement amongst the staff over '3D Puppies.’ But for men who aren’t interested in fluffy 3D animals, Metropolis has an extensive and eclectic array. Perfect for someone with an interest in design, architecture, art, graphics, cooking, or just plain reading.
Metropolis Bookshop Level 3, Curtin House 252 Swanston st Melbourne, VIC 3000(03) 9663 2015
The window display at Sam Bear immediately suggests practicality and functionality. The Swiss Army knives are just waiting to be whipped out in an emergency, and the Driza-bone is a reliable classic. This well-stocked shop carries every cult Aussie label - including Akubra hats, Blundstones and RM Williams. Surprisingly, the merchandising inside is not so dissimilar from ultra-cool Chiodo (mentioned below). True, there is not quite so much attention to decoration and minimalism (a tent hangs from the ceiling…), but the Levi Jeans are arranged by colour, and the khaki shirts are neatly folded in little stacks. There's good reason Sam Bear has been going strong in this very location for over 70 years - it's the perfect place for an outdoorsy man to potter away the afternoon contemplating trangias and thermals.
Sam Bear 225 Russell Street Melbourne VIC 3000
If I had Swedish genes, would I immediately be more stylish? The innate coolness of Sweden strikes again in Melbourne's Somewhere store, which stocks brands including Kron, Libertine-Libertine, Velour and Tiger of Sweden, as well as jeans from Cheap Monday and basics by Skinny Nelson. The motto of the store is ‘to sell nice things in a nice space to nice people’. So nice lads, head to level 2, Royal Arcade, and let the Swedish serenity take over. A love of fermented herring is not essential.
Somewhere Level 2, Royal Arcade 314 Little Collins St Melbourne, VIC 3000(03) 9663 3003
Swedish again, but not a trace of Ikea in sight - Swensk stocks Nordic brands such as Filippa K, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, J.Lindenberg, The Local Firm and Wyred. Swensk champions an understated, commonsense approach to fashion. Whilst the focus is mainly on menswear, there's a limited but excellent women's range in store also. The accessories collection is particularly great - from soft leather bags to belts, ties and shoes. The prices are surprisingly reasonable, and they have an ace online store too!Swensk 1 / 230 Little Collins Street Melbourne VIC 3000 (03) 9663 4376
A huge Comme de Garcons heart on the exterior wall of Chiodo confirms that the descending stairwell leads to the right location. Melbourne loves a hidden secret, and Chiodo is one such gem, worth seeking out for that special 'it kinda almost feels like I'm shopping in New York' vibe.
The merchandising at Chiodo is so precise it resembles a ‘Things Organised Neatly’ tumblr post, with stacks of colour coded jeans and orderly displays of brightly coloured wallets. Comme de Garcons makes up the bulk of the collection, but Chiodo also stocks Superfine, Norse Projects as well as its own house brand.
Chiodo Basement, 114 Russell st Melbourne, VIC 3000(03) 9663 0044
Melbourne's painfully cool Assin store stocks monochromatic looks from international cult brands including Maison Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Dior and Rick Owens. Assin is the place for a man with his finger on the fashion pulse. The interior fit-out somehow balances supremely understated with slightly absurd - shoes are placed in cauldrons, and the fire hydrant is nestled in a plume of ‘ash’ crafted from crushed black tissue paper. I think it is safe to say that those who shop as Assin are unlikely to also enjoy Sam Bear.Assin Basement, 138 Little Collins st. Melbourne, VIC 3000 (03) 9654 0158
If the Swedes are all about simplicity, then Henry Bucks is at the opposite end of the spectrum - exuding worldly sophistication and old school charm. You can almost smell the tobacco pipe as you walk through the door, flanked either side by two ceramic greyhounds. The extensive range includes a varied selection of business shirts, classic trench coats, buttery leather bags, hats and ties. Henry Bucks is classic with a twist. It's conservative, but it's also just slightly camp. But we can't figure out if that's on purpose.
Henry Bucks 320 Collins Street Melbourne, Vic 3000
(03) 8102 4700
Up to Level 4, Carlow House, in the slowest lift in Melbourne, is Lord Coconut, a treasure trove filled with cabinets of curiosities. The wunderkammer store has only been open for four months, but in that time has established a reputation for unique objets d'art and designer jewellery exclusively for men. The store supports 19 Victorian and one Tasmanian designer, as well as 4 visual artists. The interior reflects the eclectic jewellery range - styled with vintage and industrial display cabinets, an oversized wallpaper mural depicting a 'Natural History Museum' style dinosaur skeleton, a cow hide rug, and an old-school diving helmet. The owner, Mark Boldiston, is exceptionally friendly, and has previously had his CBD apartment featured on The Design Files!
Lord Coconut bridges a gap in the market for quality local designer men's jewellery, but is also worth a look for the ladies, as many of the pieces are as beautiful as they are masculine.
Lord Coconut Suite 3, Level 4 Carlow House 289 Flinders Lane Melbourne, VIC 3000
Incu on Flinders Lane stocks international menswear staples from Comme de Garcons, Oliver Spencer, Vanishing Elephant, Wood Wood, and APC among others. The fit-out, like the stock, is sleek and simple with concrete floors and timber shelving. Accessories include Paul Smith cufflinks, loafers in all colours of the rainbow, backpacks and Lomo cameras. Incu covers the basics with just a touch of quirky detail - wardrobe essentials for a stylish but unpretentious younger man.
Incu Shop 6a, 274 Flinders Lane Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9663 9933
Who knew that macrame could be manly? Claude Maus demonstrates the edgy side of handcraft, with a unique in-store installation of thick black woven rope, suspended from the ceiling. Claude Maus is an Aussie label for both guys and girls, with designs characterised by muted colours and layered, deconstructed shapes.Claude Maus 19 Manchester Lane Melbourne, VIC 3000
Alphaville is the retail point for hugely popular local fashion label Alpha60, headed up by Melbourne-based brother - sister design duo Alex and Georgie Cleary. The range, for both men and women, is generally monochromatic - with just enough quirky detail, geometric pattern and the odd ironic photoprint to keep the hipsters interested.Alphaville 201 Flinders Lane Melbourne, VIC 3000
Occupying a tenancy in the prestigious 101 Collins st complex, Harrolds means luxe with a capital L. If you are brave enough to look the security guard in the eye and venture into this boutique men's department store, you will find a dream wardrobe including designs from Tom Ford, YSL as well as Pierre Hardy shoes. The prices here make Chiodo look positively bargain basement - but this is serious style credibility we're talking about.
The shoe shine booth, manned by colourful CDB character Neill Martin, was perhaps a more accessible entry point for some shoppers - an inspiring initiative supported by the Salvation Army and Harrolds owners John and Theo Poulakis. Sadly, after 5 years running his little business outside Harrolds on Collins st, just last week Neill Martin passed away in his sleep. Neill was a familiar face to many city commuters and Harrolds staff and customers, and will be sadly missed. His Collins st booth is full of floral tributes this week. Harrolds is in talks with Melbourne City Council about a possible street plaque commemorating his life.
Harrolds 101 Collins St Melbourne 3000
(03) 8660 7888