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What is fashion? What is ‘in fashion’?  What is design? How do fashion designers survive? Can fashion include street art, a city’s icons, accessories, vintage, design architecture, shop dressing, typography even chocolate? We explore the many expressions of fashion in the City of Melbourne. School students with an interest in fashion such as Vermont  Secondary College regularly do this tour.

For a hundred years ‘The Lane’ (Flinders Lane) was the centre of Australia’ s textile manufacturing and tailoring industry (the schmatte trade) crowded with milliners, seamstresses, factories, tailors, commercial travellers, sample rooms etc. My father was a tailor and I can easily recall the gleaming black Singer machines, the smell of their oiled parts, their chattering sound driven by foot pedals and the myriad small steel parts kept in drawers. The industry was vastly diminished when the Government ended tariffs in the 1990s.

However a thriving boutique industry of small shops specialising in designer clothers, Australian-made products, jewellery, accessories, re-cycled vintage and secondhand clothes has sprung up in the Lanes. Our Lanes Tour also passes through many of the arcades where these miniature shopping centres of boutique stores cluster such as Nicholson building, 271 Collins, Block Arcade, Campbell Arcade, Cathedral Arcade, Royal Arcade, Centre Arcade, Howie Place, Degraves subway, Flinders Lane and others. We also visit the former site of the stunning 1892 Singer store and the Melbourne Sample Rooms. 


For a list of 100 designer fashion shops in Melbourne see: Designer Fashion



















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