SHOPPING? We hear you say, when we mention the word Carlton. Yes, shopping. Meld reporter Connie Foong finds out there’s more to Carlton than just tucker, and more to shopping in Melbourne than DFOs, Melbourne Central, Chadstone Shopping Centre, Brunswick and Chapel St.
Fashion and accessories
Most of the fashion retailers in Carlton are located in and around Lygon Court. In fact, Lygon Court itself houses several popular retailers like Country Road, Mimco and Ojay. Fulfill your shoe needs at Alberto Piazza Shoes and Midas. And at Aurum Design Jewellers, you can request personalised jewellery made to your liking.
There’s also Black Orange, an upmarket boutique specialising in New Zealand labels. Silk Lane Boutique features mostly Italian imported labels, and for the environmentally-conscious, check out Eco Wear, which, as its name suggests, uses natural fibres to create its clothing.
Just outside Lygon Court, you can find two other popular brands side by side: Witchery and French Connection (356 Lygon St). A little down the path, closer to Elgin St, don’t miss To The Max (392 Lygon St). They stock well-loved brands like Sass & Bide and Bettina Liano, and also sell accessories.
On the same stretch, you can also check out Venom (390 Lygon St) and Idyl (388 Lygon St). Across the street, there’s Digby’s (297 Lygon St), Parigi Boutique (299 Lygon St). All specialise in women’s clothing.
Stop at Ishka (362 Lygon St) for something slightly different. Their focus is on handmade and ethnic crafts, but they also sell Bohemian-inspired clothes. Another Bohemian-style store is Husk (324 Lygon St), which not only sells fashion and accessory, but also hand-crafted homeware and body and skincare products.
And if you love all things retro, Chitra’s Closet at 159 Elgin St is a must. This boutique features vintage-inspired and retro style clothing by independent fashion designer Chitra Mangma. Originally from Thailand, Ms Mangma uses vibrant colours and beautiful fabrics to create whimsical and handcrafted designs.
Mainstream brands on Lygon include Esprit (315 Lygon St) and Sportsgirl (205 Lygon St) on the corner of Grattan St. The more budget-conscious might like to go to Cotton On (247 Lygon St) instead. For the bargain-hunter, check out the factory outlet Jump Warehouse Shop (586 Swanston St).
And if all these aren’t enough, there’s Blue Illusion (253 Lygon St) for some French-inspired fashion, Fellini (330 Lygon St) for Italian wear, and RPM (332 Lygon St), which stocks both local and imported labels.
Shoe lovers can also delight in browsing through the collections at Nine West (338 Lygon St), Milu (269 Lygon St), and Watt’s Corner Shoe Store (264-266 Lygon St). Diana Ferrari (265 Lygon St) also has a lovely shoe collection in addition to their clothes. Head over to Bottega (181 Elgin St) for imported European footwear.
Perhaps you like looking good for bedtime. In that case, visit Peter Alexander (271 Lygon St) for some sleepwear love.
Clothes may make a person, but for those who place equal, if not, greater importance on their crowning glory, Hairhouse Warehouse is located on 251 Lygon St for all your hair needs.
One of Carlton’s best-kept secrets is probably Eastern Market (107 Grattan St), an extraordinary fashion store for the fashionista and those with a passion for cutting-edge and unique fashion. Tucked away in a small alley and housed in a WWI-era chapel, this high-fashion store stocks rare clothing collections from Europe, UK and Japan, and features niche designers like Paul Harnden, If Six Was Nine and Carol Christian Poell.
Other interesting shops
King & Godfree (293 Lygon St) is well-known for fine liquor and quality deli products, both local and imported. King & Godfree has been around since 1884, and is an excellent place to get quality wine and deli items like bread and oil.
For all your herbs and spices needs, look no further than Gewürzhaus (342 Lygon St). Gewürzhaus opened about a year ago, and is the first of its kind. Its very name is German for ‘spice house’, and offers a unique experience where you can choose and scoop your own spices – just like a lolly store. Read our special feature.
And speaking of lolly stores, you can’t miss The Original Lolly Store (239 Lygon St) with its enticing display window. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the myriad of sweet treats which fill this small shop almost to the brim.
The Poppy Shop (283 Lygon St) sells knick-knacks, and the shop is a quirky mix of toys, ornaments, gifts, greeting cards and old-fashioned and vintage items. Like one of those shops straight from storybooks, you’ll never know what you can find.
If you are an anime-lover and love Japanese media, Animasia (99 Grattan St) can’t be missed. They are also the biggest supplier of Gundam models, and specialise in mecha.
A shopping guide in Carlton isn’t complete without mentioning Readings (309 Lygon St), an icon in the Australian literary landscape. Readings is more than just a shop of books – it’s also a creative space where the literary gather. There’s often something happening in the store, like book signings or book launches, and story times for kids. Check their website for what’s happening.
The Book Affair on 161 Elgin St is not to be missed! A basement and two levels of books await you in this cosy bookstore. With great prices on both new and second-hand books and a warm and welcoming interior, you’ll be tempted to embark on a life-long affair with the Book Affair. Make sure your day is free if you visit the store – you’ll be tempted to lose yourself in both fiction and non-fiction the whole day.
There is also Carlton Second Hand Books (678 Swanston St), a quaint-looking store filled with two-storeys worth of books. The wonderful thing about these independent bookstores is the personal experience they offer – experienced staff who are more than happy to help you.
For something slightly different, check out The New International Bookshop (Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St). It’s a self-declared “radical” bookshop selling books (both new and secondhand) and other products expressing left-wing, radical, progressive and alternative viewpoints. The cooperative also runs a coffee shop alongside the bookstore.
Cross over the cultural barrier at Scopo Italian Bookshop (265 Drummond St). The bookshop specialises in Italian literature, as well as language resources for those keen on learning the language.
And maybe when you’ve achieved an adequate level of fluency, or to assist you on your Italian-learning adventure, Mondo Music (211 Lygon St) sells Italian movies and music, and is located at the heart of the Lygon St precinct.
Musicians, or aspiring musicians, do check out Music Swop Shop. It specialises in second-hand musical instruments, and is located at 145-147 Elgin St. And audiophiles might like to check out Carlton Audio Visual (164-172 Lygon St), which sells hi-fi systems and speakers.
…And finally, when your feet are beginning to feel the full effects of your shopaholic ways, there’s no shortage of cafes and restaurants to stop for coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner.
What’s your favourite shop in Carlton? Tell us in the comments section below.